ALBANY, Ore. -- Over 100 people rallied outside of the Linn County Courthouse Friday evening in support of a Black teen, who was the victim of an alleged hate crime
The crowd held signs that said "Black Lives Matter," "No Hate Here," and "End Racism." Speeches were given by leaders of Black Joy Oregon and the Albany chapter of the NAACP. Black Joy Oregon organized Friday's rally in Albany and the founder, Julianne Jackson, said it was not a protest. It was just a time and place to show 13-year-old Nehemiah Miller the community supports him.
"We're letting the community know that this person is not alone. We understand we’re only 2% of the population but we need other folks to understand we’ll take the time to go stand with folks," Jakson said. "It’s not something we’re not going to tolerate in our communities any longer."
Miller was allegedly assaulted by the five white teenagers last Tuesday at Swanson Park. Albany Police said he was standing up against hate speech when the teens began to assault him. He was then hospitalized. Three of the five teens have been arrested and charged with various degrees of assault and bias crime.
Albany Mayor Alex Johnson II said he was disappointed and saddened by the incident.
“People need to know that behaviors like that are unacceptable,” Johnson said. “In this community, we must be better together. We must be. No question about it. There's good people that live here, and there's people who don't believe we should be here. That's the past. Let's move forward better together as a community."
Johnson said he hopes with education and time that this type of treatment and hate will end. He encouraged community members to report incidents like this to the police department, city councilors and teachers.
“People are just tired of this,” Johnson said. “Everybody is worn down. It’s time for this stuff to stop.”
He said he planned on having lunch with the teenager and his grandmother on Saturday to let him know he is supported.