More than 300 Camas Rally For The Blue supporters, and approximately 150 Black Lives Matters (BLM) squared off Friday night mostly at 3rd Avenue and Dallas Street to express their beliefs.
The BLM rally started off at Camas Public Library at 4 pm and within about 20 minutes the group migrated to the ARCO station where they stayed for the duration — until just past 10 pm. The pro-police rally was scheduled as a stand-alone event, but Tuesday night local students organized a counter BLM protest.
The Camas Rally For The Blue began a little before 5 pm at two locations — between Camas Safeway and Dairy Queen — but eventually migrated to occupy three of the four corners at 3rd and Dallas.
”We just want to stand up and say Black Lives Matter,” said Cindy Graham, a Camas resident who rallied with the BLM team. “Middle class white people care about black lives and I don’t want to say anything negative about the police because I know a lot of Camas cops are good friends of mine and they are great guys. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we need to stand up and do something to help African Americans. In my opinion the BLM movement doesn’t stand for socialism like some of these people are saying, it just stands for black people have been oppressed and we often don’t understand how oppressed they are so we need to make more of an effort. All lives matter, but black lives matter needs to be said when this is happening in our country.”
She said this is a vote for Black Lives Matter.
“We need more white middle class people to stop screaming at their televisions and get out here and stand peacefully on the corner and say that,” Graham added. “Actually all classes of white people need to do this.”
The interview was interrupted by a BLM supporter in blue hair who told this reporter to “get out of my face.”
”I just wanted a rally to support our police,” said Blue Rally organizer, Helen Sudbeck. “It’s a fabulous town and we have a great police department. They need to know how much we care about them and appreciate them. It’s been a rough couple months for police across the country and I think there are a lot of people in Camas who really care about our police. That’s it. We are just here to support the police. I realize there’s a counter demonstration and that’s fine. It’s a group of kids and that’s their First Amendment right, and that’s fine. They chose to have the rally at the exact same location, and that is their right, as well.”
Was it a bad idea to have this Blue rally today given the historic anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech”?
“I just picked a Friday night after work hours to show the police we care. I didn’t have any grand plan. We know police morale is low these days. Most cops are good people who have families,” she said. “We know reforms need to take place, and I encourage people to learn more about Project 21.”
It was a lively night, tensions were high, and it wasn’t entirely peaceful.
Blue Rally supporters filled trucks and cars chanting “Blue Lives Matter” while circling city streets for hours. BLM supporters chanted “All cops are bastards,” “I see racists,” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Here are some of the things this reporter witnessed:
- One man was carrying an assault rifle, which was intimidating to many. Police stayed close to him throughout the evening.
- One Blue Rally supporter went over to speak with BLM supporters to simply express admiration they were being vocal in their beliefs. He knew the teens there and while addressing them, a professional BLM organizer got in his face with a camera demanding he wear a face mask. Another BLM supporter challenged him, as well. The video will be posted on Saturday.
- A Trump supporter threw coffee at an elderly lady while driving by. It stained her jeans.
- Joey Gibson, of Patriot Prayer, had a very nice conversation with a BLM supporter about religion and removing hate from our lives. There was a lot of good dialogue between the two individuals. But, his presence also intimidated protestors.
- Several BLM supporters didn’t want this reporter to conduct interviews and chanted “racist” to my face multiple times.
- Police broke up a couple altercations before they escalated.
- Confederate flags were brought in, which disturbed a lot of people.
- Some of the BLM teens felt intimidated by Blue Rally supporters.
- Camas Police asked everyone to break up the events shortly after 9 pm. The Blue Rally crowd quickly dispersed, while the BLM group lingered past 10 pm with about 30 people.
The evening ended with a very positive conversation between a BLM/Joe Biden supporter, who is a teacher in the Evergreen School District, and a Blue Rally/Donald Trump supporter, who had a 7-minute conversation about how to make things better. They found common ground. Initially, both sides agreed to be recorded, but after it ended, the teacher withdrew her permission for us to post it.
“I just want our cops to know we do appreciate them, but we also need to help our black people right now,” she said. “They need a voice to know that we don’t want them to be oppressed.”
The Trump supporter agreed, and then the night ended.