Reports had the total turnout for Sunday’s “March to End Violence”, which was organized by local and regional advocacy groups, at about 600 people.
But as their chants reverberated through Portland’s downtown- at times approaching deafening levels- it felt like a lot more than that had turned out for the event.
Pedestrians on the sidewalk stopped to watch, people hung out of high-rise windows to snap pictures and record video, and the Portland Police Department did a wonderful job of handling the whole thing.
The protestors maintained their intensity throughout the entirety of the march, and many people- participants and observers- were visibly overcome by the emotion and passion emanating from the crowd.
The march ended in the Portland High School gymnasium, which is right across the street from City Hall, and several people got up to speak in front of a podium.
Portland mayor Mike Brennan was there. He said of the rally, “I think that what we’re seeing in Portland is reflective of the larger events going on around the country. I’m happy with how everyone has handled themselves.”
Joseph Jackson was there too, he’s the director of the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition. He read a moving poem, which is posted below. There is some R-rated language in the poem that I’ve censored with hyphens, but this is your disclaimer.
Here are some pictures and videos from the march:
How I so long to deep a take breath and just Roar
Cut through the snore
Officers Pantaleo, and Wilson killing black men like it’s a social chore
I’m past saying ain’t taking no more
just breathe, just Roar.
There are kings behind our closet doors
The Black man was Mansa, Pharoah, and King
Created in the image of the Supreme Being
Some cringe- but this isn’t a reverse racism binge
Attempting to remove negative of blacks from the social lens
Discrimination and Oppression are the sins
And a violation of a morality is forgetting where you have been.
At Olduvai Tanzania tied on leaves of figs
In Northern Africa erected the pyramids
Constructed the temple of Israel Big
Then bowed to Alexander after we did a jig.
Out of Carthage followed Hannibal over high hills
For half a Millenium debated in Spain over new ideas
Survived the cotton field and dangling heels
Only to still kneel
Structured knowledge we still yield
Remaining silent while we’re still killed
Still restrained with steel.
And I Roar with arching back and clenched fist
Choked till I can’t breathe and s—
For allegedly stealing cigars and selling cigarettes.
It was Mali, Timbuktu, and Ethiopia the last time black lives were rich
Dirt we still pitched, but there was none of that N—– s—
and now instead of saying the word n—–, their guns spit
While I sit here spitting my gums begging for them to quit
I need to sit
And take a deep breath.-
Joseph Jackson, Director of Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition