UPDATE posted at 12:50 p.m. Tuesday, June 2
The following is a statement released by St. Helens Police concerning the planned march and rally in St. Helens on Wednesday.
To the St. Helens Community,
We hear you. We are upset and saddened by acts of racism and racial injustice. Most of our officers live in this community. Our friends and families are here. This is where our children attend school and where we shop and dine. We support your concerns regarding the need for systematic change across the nation in police response. The people who make our laws need to hear your voice so that this change can become a reality.
Our Department has been in contact with the organizers of the protest being planned for Wednesday, June 3 at 5 p.m. in St. Helens. For community safety, the protest will now be using the Lewis and Clark Elementary School parking lot to park their vehicles and assemble. The protest will then proceed down Columbia Boulevard to South 1st Street and into the Plaza Square and Columbia View Park area.
Although this event is not permitted by the City due to the Governor’s orders restricting gatherings over 25 people, we understand that right now people need a platform in which to voice their sadness and anger and hear their call for these issues to be addressed.
At this point, we have no reason to believe that this will be anything other than a peaceful protest, and we are working with the group organizers and other community members who have contacted us to ensure that it remains so.
Our police officers will be at the protest with the safety of everyone as our number one priority. We encourage all attendees to obey all laws. Respect our community residents, business owners, and their property. By respectful of each other and protest in a peaceful fashion so that your voice can be heard.
We will be there to facilitate a peaceful protest. We will protect those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights and ensure the safety of our community members.
Chief Brian Greenway
St. Helens Police Department
Previous Chronicle coverage posted at 5 p.m. June 1
Local organizers plan a march and rally in St. Helens to show their support for the Black Lives Matters movement.
The planned event at 5 p.m. Wednesday, follows statewide and national rallies that have turned violent and left many businesses looted and vandalized.
Governor Kate Brown has called in Oregon State Police troopers and unarmed members of the Oregon National Guard to help the City of Portland following three nights of violent protects that began Friday. The violence was triggered after the killing of a black man who died in police custody last week in Minneapolis.
Similar rallies were held over the weekend in Salem and Eugene.
The Chronicle contacted the City of St. Helens to see what legally any group must do to legally hold a rally and march in the city.
The City has a permitting process for any public assembly taking place on city property or in a right-of-way where over 50 people will be attending, according to the City of St. Helens communications director Crystal King.
"Due to COVID-19 restrictions issued by the governor which limit local gatherings to 25 people with no traveling, we are not able to issue public assembly permits at this time, King said. "We are aware that this may not prevent people from assembling to protest. City leaders and departments, law enforcement, and partner agencies are currently working together to plan for a potential assembly in St. Helens and help facilitate a peaceful protest for both the protestors and our community."
A Zoom electronic online meeting between the march and rally organizers and local law enforcement agents is planed for this evening. The Chronicle will follow that event with updates here online and in the Wednesday print edition of The Chronicle.