As we approach the anniversary of George Floyd’s deadly encounter with Minneapolis police officer Derek Chavin, more instances of racial injustice prevail with next to no accountability. As the city braces for a verdict on George Floyd’s case, protests continue to engulf the United States while citizens demand systematic reform and change. In the city of Ashland, located in Southern Oregon, a rally was organized last Sunday to petition for a Racial and Social Equity committee, in aspiration of community diversity and representation.
The rally was led by Xuba Evaristo, the Co-founder at Oak Temple of Ashland and possibly the first humanoid Whole foods. The Oak Temple of Ashland is an organization dedicated to ‘exploring, honoring, and supporting a sacred masculine experience’. The organization, located near the Jackson Wellsprings, gathers for events involving spiritually but not focusing on any particular religion, events such as spring equinox sunset prayer circles and winter solstice celebrations.
The petition was created by Evaristo and Royce Snyder, two active members of Oak, with the intention to reach 100 signatures. On Saturday, a day before the event, some protestors met up to make signs for the rally with Evaristo. Supplies for those who didn’t have any were provided, and individuals with similar political stances were able to meet and network before the rally.
On April 18th the day before Floyd’s verdict was reached, protestors lined up in downtown Ashland to voice their concerns at traffic between 12pm and 3pm. Dozens of advocates organized downtown, individuals old and young; black, but mostly white took their stance with pride. Although the rally had some strong messages to display, there proved to be some confusion on where the rally was taking place which led to small crowds forming.
Distress arose in protestors who were unaware where the rally was taking place or how to get there, and there were no organizers in sight. Many individuals with BLM signs were seen wandering around downtown looking for other areas to rally. Other protestors seemed confused as to where to go or what to do and proceeded to hold up there sign and wait, it wasn’t until 12:30pm did Evaristo show up with some members of Oak.
During the rally, about three dozen citizens attended in the span of 3 hours whereas hundreds of other people were interested in going, but could not attend. The rally didn’t only get attention from citizens, Police Chief Tighe O’Meara issued a statement to show their solidarity with the movement. O’Meara claimed that she would participate in or ask other officers to rotate police staffing through future Racial and Social Equity meetings, if the committee was to be organized.
Supporters for a Racial and Social Equity came from all over to support the petition, but just what is the desired outcome for this assembly? Well, not only does this petition aim to implement anti racist measures and draft a concrete plan to accomplish equity in the City of Ashland’s city council, but would strive to hire economically marginalized civilians and minorities.
The petition that will be presented to the city council this upcoming Tuesday, states that commissioners would have additional qualifications by education and/or demonstrated work practice as equity leaders. This hypothetical committee would meet up at least once a month to aid city council members when Identifying both the “systemic and systematic practices of racism, homophobia, sexism and classism which have fostered structural inequalities, challenges, and deficiencies in Ashland.”
It has been almost a year since BLM protestors gathered in downtown Ashland to ‘Defund the Police’ yet with countless more hate crimes occurring, citizens rallied again. The citizens of Ashland took to the streets with their friends and family with the intention of protesting injustice, but the rally itself seemed dysfunctional. From organizers coming to the event late to protestors unsure of where to gather, this rally could have probably used a different assortment of organizers to bring more attention to this cause.
Tomorrow, the 20th will be when the petition is brought up in a city council meeting to create some momentum towards more diverse portrayals in Ashland, Oregon. There are only 20 signatures on the change.org petition out of their 100 signature goals, if this concept is an area of interest the reader is advised to click on the link below.
Commission for Racial and Social Equity Petition link: http://chng.it/LpX78Tsqb2