“Take it to the streets,” was part of a chant by about 1,000 advocates for police reform that started in front of city hall and ended at Deering Oaks Park almost four hours later – making a stop in between at the historic Abyssinian Meeting House on Munjoy HIll. Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery. It was a protest and memorial in response to the brutal – “I Can’t Breathe” – killing of George Lloyd by Minneapolis police.
Under sunny skies and temps in the 80s, speakers on the steps of city hall told their stories of living black in the State of Maine. Bange Lako spoke of her dream of becoming a doctor. “The process is not easy. Living in Maine, it is difficult to find some, if any, black physicians or mentors to help guide me through this journey. I know that there are many people who endure the same struggles. I know that medicine is my calling to help serve underserved communities, especially in black communities,” Bonge said.
Tim Wilson, former president of Seeds of Peace, spoke to the crowd telling them to “put your books on cause you’ll be at this for a long time.” Wilson also instructed the attentive crowd that “more blacks need to be on governmental committees.” He urged everyone to vote in November.
Tasha, one of the organizers of the event, then called upon the crowd to walk to the historic Abyssinian Meeting House chanting “Take it to the Streets to Defund the Police.” The huge crowd filled Newbury Street in front of the Meeting House for about twenty minutes. There, several read poems of their own composition or composed by others. Cold water and snacks for anyone needing them was in good supply.
Then the non-violent and mostly white crowd began the chant again on its way to Deering Oaks Park on the western part of Portland where mhn.com caught up with them by car as described above. “Take it to the Streets to Defund the Police.”
Similar protests were held in Washington, D.C., New York City, California, and elsewhere across the country.