Group erects anti-racist billboards in Portland

A string of billboards designed to raise awareness about black people who have died in police shootings are turning h...

Posted: Apr. 18, 2018 7:45 AM
Updated: Apr. 18, 2018 7:45 AM

A string of billboards designed to raise awareness about black people who have died in police shootings are turning heads in Portland.

The community group behind the campaign, Portland Equity In Action, says they have bought 25 placards and placed them throughout the city.

Some of the posters deliver straightforward messages, such as "Black Narrative," or "Black Lives Matter".

Other reference specific people who have been killed.

The group says they are "dedicated to building racial equality" in the city and hope to "confront and disrupt the rampant complacency" regarding white supremacy in Portland, according to their website.

Members call the deaths of Terrell Johnson, a man shot and killed by a Portland police officer last year, and Larnell Bruce, a man run down outside a Gresham 7-Eleven in 2016, unjust.

Johnson died May 10, 2017 after police say he threatened people with a knife at the Flavel Street Max station. A grand jury ruled deadly force by the officer was justified.

Bruce died in August 2016 after a fight with a man and his girlfriend in the 18700 block of East Burnside Street. Bruce ran from the scene, but was chased down by the couple and run over by a 1991 Jeep Wrangler, according to police.

The 19-year-old was critically injured and died at the hospital several days later. Police say the couple who ran Bruce over have ties to white supremacist groups.

People who have seen the billboards say they send a strong message.

"Hopefully, it starts the conversation again, it's an ongoing conversation," Robin Marks, a woman who saw the billboard for the first time Monday night, says. "People need to be aware of, get the background of the black person's story."

Marks says that if the billboards get people talking, she doesn't mind seeing them throughout the city.

"The more the better," Marks says.

The suspects in the death of Bruce, Russell Courtier and Colleen Hunt, are expected to be back in court Friday.

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