Jesse Jackson Opposes Counter-Protest, Says 'We'll Have Our Own Day To March'

By Rob Manning (OPB)
Portland, Oregon June 2, 2017 7 p.m.
One sign reads, "When people are killed for standing up to religious bigotry, our society is broken."

One sign reads, "When people are killed for standing up to religious bigotry, our society is broken."

Laura Klinkner / OPB

Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson is advising against mounting a counter-protest in downtown Portland this weekend, in opposition to a planned pro-Trump rally.


Some Portland-area leaders have asked organizers on both sides to cancel the events in light of tensions since a fatal stabbing a week ago on a MAX train. The rallies would occur nine days after a white man stabbed three men, two of them to death, after he verbally assaulted two young women of color.  

Jackson said Friday that supporters of religious and racial tolerance should not pour fuel on a fire. A conservative YouTube channel captured his remarks.

"Let them march alone," Jackson said from the front of a Northeast Portland church.

Jackson was joined by Multnomah County commissioner Loretta Smith among other elected officials and religious leaders. He answered several questions from members of the media, and said he disagreed with adding numbers to a movement liberal Portlanders disagree with.

"Our presence becomes the other side of the news," suggested Jackson. "Let them and the cameras show up and be their own movement."


Related: Grandmother Of Portland Stabbing Victim Asks Organizers To Cancel Dueling Rallies

But Jackson said they should plan for a separate march on a different day.

"We'll have our own day to march, and we'll not be afraid," Jackson said. "We'll show our faces, and we'll tell the world, this is who we really are."

Portland Police are planning for large, potentially violent, demonstrations downtown on Sunday.

A separate rally scheduled for June 10 was already canceled at the urging of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Jackson put the Portland stabbing in the context of a long line of racist violence in recent years, and rather than asking "Why Portland?," the long-time civil rights activist asked "Why not?"

"Why not Portland? It's here," Jackson said. "Why not Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon [Martin] was killed? It was there. Why New York City where a young man was shot in the back by police 40 times, it was there. Why not Ferguson, Missouri? It was there."

Jackson is also scheduled to meet with Mayor Ted Wheeler Friday.