PRINEVILLE — For the third time since the end of May, Black Lives Matter protesters and counterprotesters lined an entire city block outside the Crook County Courthouse on Third Street.

Rumors of violence and looting drew a larger crowd Saturday, with hundreds of people on each side of the street, the busy main drag through Prineville. Many counterprotesters, who did not want the demonstration in their town, were heavily armed.

Law enforcement from several agencies made certain the protest would stay peaceful.

Cement barriers were set up along the street outside the courthouse with signs that told people to use the crosswalks or face arrest if they entered the roadway. Prineville Police reported no arrests.

Toward the end of the protest, people from both sides used the crosswalks so they could confront each other in heated conversations. No fights were reported.

Both sides felt it was necessary to be in Prineville on Saturday, despite two earlier rallies that produced death threats toward organizers.

The Black Lives Matter protesters came from across Central Oregon to spread their message about police brutality and racial inequality. The issues were sparked last month when a Black man, George Floyd, died in police custody after a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Counterprotesters saw the demonstration as an attack on their police department and a way to paint the town’s residents as racists. They were motivated to protect their town.

As the Black Lives Matter protesters chanted, the counterprotesters across the street stood stoically. Some held their guns, while others held “Trump 2020” flags.

Tom Clark, a 76-year-old retired attorney from Bend, brought a sign to the protest that read, “No Hate, No Fear.” Clark said his main reason for attending the protest was to support the Black Lives Matter movement, not to demonstrate against the city of Prineville.

“It’s not about Prineville. It’s not about Crook County,” Clark said. “It’s about America.”

Bend resident Hannah Terrell, who attended the protest with her husband, Chris, said their Christian faith motivated them to support the cause, since they believe every single person deserves to be treated equally.

“To me, it’s very obvious that Black people are not just incredibly marginalized but are victims of the result of hundreds of years of systemic racism,” Hannah Terrell said. “And we have to acknowledge that. It would be inconsistent with my faith if I just kept quiet.”

Joshua Hernandez, a 39-year-old Bend resident, said he was invited to the protest by some friends who live in Prineville and helped organize the event. Hernandez has attended several other protests in Bend, and is focused on speaking out against police brutality.

Hernandez said he thinks about his 9-year-old daughter and how she might be treated by police when she is older.

“That’s why I’m here,” Hernandez said. “I want to make sure she grows up in a world where she isn’t afraid to drive down the street.”

Many businesses stayed open Saturday and welcomed people from both sides of the street.

Some business owners spent the afternoon outside of their shops to protect their property if the protest turned violent.

Melanie Marlow, owner of Painted Hills Custom Leather on Third Street, a block away from the protest, said she would have rather spent the day working inside on custom orders, but she felt she needed to stay outside and guard her shop.

“I need to be in there working,” she said. “I’m losing time.”

Prineville couple Coby and Kirsten Mudgett showed up Saturday and sat with the counterprotesters to show pride for their town and protect its reputation. The couple each wore shirts that said “Prineville, Oregon.”

Coby Mudgett said he attended the Prineville protest last weekend and was accused of being a racist by people at the protest. That upset him.

“I love everybody,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone hurt on either side.”

Mudgett said his hope for the day was that the protest stayed peaceful.

“I just want to see everyone walk away from this,” he said. “Hopefully their side got something out of it, and hopefully we got something out of it.”

Madison Russell, a 20-year-old Prineville resident, stood with the counterprotesters holding a sign that read, “Support Prineville Police and Crook County Sheriff’s Office.”

Russell hopes to be a police officer someday, and she wanted to show her support.

“My goal is to be able to work here in Prineville or in the surrounding areas,” she said.

Like many others, Russell did not want to see the protest turn violent. Throughout the day, she felt safe standing with the counterprotesters.

“All these people won’t let anything happen to this town,” she said. “They don’t mess around here.”

Reporter: 541-617-7820,

kspurr@bendbulletin.com

(10) comments

Thomas Who

I totally support the counter protesters of Prineville. Black Lives Matter imported protesters to their peaceful town and accused and insinuated that the residents there are r@c!st, wh!te suprem@c!st N@zi!s. When in reality Black Lives Matter is an intolerant, hate group, who’s goal is to disrupt, divide, and antagonize the local residents. They demand that the town take a knee, beg for their forgiveness, and contribute to their political fund, or they promise to bring larger and more violent protests in the future. Black Lives Matter does NOT bring people together. Black Lives Matter does NOT solve racial problems. Black Lives Matter’s intent is to create tension and strife where none exists. Black Lives Matter is a shakedown operation used to raise money for political parties. If they come to Prineville again, and there is a counter protest, I will join them. I know for a fact that Prineville is not a racist town, that anyone of any race can move there. They may not be welcomed, but they will not be un-welcomed either. They will just be treated the same everyone else.

BuckeyeDuck

If you know Prineville is not a racist town, why do you sound like one with this post? Were you the gentleman carrying the confederate flag during yesterday's gathering as shown on KTVZ?

Thomas Who

I am not from Prineville, but I know many people who have lived there all their lives. They are not racists. They are good people. I myself am not of Caucasian decent and have never experience racism there. I was not the guy carrying the Confederate flag, but, whether you agree with it or not, does he not have the same right to free speech as the Black Lives Matter protesters? Why are their rights greater than everybody else’s? If Black Lives Matter shows up again I will join the counter protesters, and I will be carrying an American flag.

BuckeyeDuck

Yep, bringing the confed flag was within that individual’s 1st rights. I’m curious since it represents slavery to the vast majority of people in this country, what message he was bringing to the event. Sure wasn’t peace and tranquility was it? I also wonder if any of the counter protestors asked him to put it away. Likewise folks coming armed. I notice the BLM folks haven’t arrived armed which shows a lot of courage, and I don’t believe the Prineville PD would be up for any assistance from those carrying weapons. I can only believe that it’s about intimidation. As to your thought about BLM rights being greater than others? Haven’t been paying attention to history since the story here is about everybody having the same rights, and that’s not what’s been happening in this country since the first slave set foot on our soil. Your first post’s conspiracy comments “hate group, intolerant, disrupt, divide”, wow, straight from the mouths of the Trumps, the most divisive group there could ever be.

Lastly, it looks like you’ll be “importing” yourself to Prineville for whatever gathering happens next. You’ll be just like the Civil Rights “Freedom Riders” of the early sixties when they traveled from the north to the south to help with desegregation. Except as was mentioned in a recent Idaho Statesman editorial about BLM counter protestors, you’ll be on the wrong side of history.

Tom Pained

I don't think showing up with some iteration of the Confederate Flag is welcoming. However a Trump supporter with a Confederate Flag not a surprise. Just helps to promote the believe Trump is a racist. And yes, the Confederacy was about slavery.

For those of you who love engaging in revisionist history, that the war wasn’t about slavery, l let’s listen to Alexander H. Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy in his “Corner Stone Speech at the Athenaeum in Savannah, Georgia (21 March 1861)

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science.

So yes, the Confederate Flag, any iteration of it, is a symbol of supporting slavery. For that is what the Confederacy believed in. Not my words. Their second most powerful leader.

So standing out there with the Confederate flag isn't sending the message Crook County is welcoming and inclusive. It's my hope that man is outlier not representative of Crook County as a whole.

BuckeyeDuck

Well said.

CardiacSpike

Leave it to the Bulletin to sensationalize yesterday’s Prineville demonstration.

“Heavy armed”…”rumors of looting”…”motivated to protect their town”. It’s almost as if the Bulletin was disappointed none of the above occurred. And there was certainly no coverage in this story of why that was.

Last week Chief Dale Cummins reached out to the leadership of Black Lives Matter, Central Oregon Black Leaders Assembly, and the Oregon Constitutional Militia. He met and spoke with these groups and created an ad hoc coalition among them. Each pledged to demonstrate peacefully and acknowledged each group’s supporters had a right to be heard.

Assisting local law enforcement agency leadership likewise met and shared input on how best to proceed. Town businesspeople contributed to the dialogue, as well. The result was at times a loud and colorful display of opinions, views, and symbolic gestures (e.g. open carry, both Confederate and American flags present).

And a common respect for the constraints placed on the demonstrators overall by Chief Cummins.

No arrests…no violence…no destruction…

Just good old American Freedom of Speech and peaceful assembly.

Job well done by all involved. Two major demonstrations in Central Oregon this weekend. Both immensely successful, non-violent, and with local law enforcement answering the call.

I guess the Bulletin missed all that.

BuckeyeDuck

After reading your comment and re reading the Bull article I'd have to say you're the one doing the sensationalizing. Particularly Paras one and two of your comment and your last sentence.

Joeshoe

How about Bend locals staying in Bend and leaving the good folk of Prineville in peace? I get all the virtue signalling makes folks feel good, but how about doing something that is actually impactful to disadvantaged communities?

BuckeyeDuck

Maybe the folks are there to help the disadvantaged of Prineville get a message across. Your welcome to come to Bend to visit during our next vigil/protest.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.