Speaker after speaker gave testimony to the pain and sometimes trauma of being a black person this afternoon at a two hour Black Lives Matter rally on the steps of city hall as members of the City Council and several state legislators looked on in the background.
City councilor Jill Duson spoke on behalf of the Portland City Council at one point calling for a moment of silence to remember the families who have suffered the brutality of police departments for the death of their loves ones. She assured the crowd that the city is working with the city manager and police chief to review policies to be certain none of them contain violence toward black people.
Addresses from the steps of city hall came from the well-known in the community to the not so well known. Sean suggested three easy steps to take. She recommended educating yourself about racism, talking about the problem because the voices from the black community have been muted for so long. Her third suggestion was to be kind to each other. “I’m tired of getting up and wondering what black person has been killed by a white person who won’t go accounted for,” she said. Alexis, who moved from Miami, Florida to Freedom, Maine “did not feel free here. I learned the tale of two constitutions here in Maine. I learned what white privilege is here in Maine,” she said.
State representative Rachel Talbott told the crowd of thousands that: “We can no longer accept polite statements…..about how the murder of blacks makes you feel. Keep your statements if it means you don’t speak to me in the halls of our workplace,” she said. Her comments reached an emotional crescendo culminating with the chant of: Black Lives Matter.
Portland School Superintendent Xavier Bontano thanked everyone for saying that Black Lives Matter. He said he was ashamed that there are twice as many black children being disciplined with fewer than half of the students black. He also acknowledged that little progress has been made in public school curriculum of people who are marginalized. (See above left photo).
One speaker called on politicians to put out a statement if you support us.