WATCH: Voices From the Ground: ‘The Protests Are Not All Riots’

By Tracey Onyenacho Sep 02, 2020

Trigger Warning: This video depicts police violence.

Black people have always historically organized resistances that have turned into movements. Recently, protests have erupted all over the United States since the police killing of George Floyd. Many of the uprisings, from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, have sustained themselves for months, with millions of people in the streets calling for an end to police brutality. 

Portland, Oregon, has been one of the most surprising cities to fight for Black lives with protesters marching on the grounds for more than 80 days. Met with violent attacks from law enforcement officers (city and federal) and white supremacist groups, Black and brown protestors have been at the forefront of peaceful marches in downtown Portland. With the Black population dropping in a historically racist city, it is a huge risk for Black and brown people to lead protests in Portland—they are twice as likely to be arrested than white protestors. Yet, they still forge on in the name of justice.

DeAndre Marquise, also known as Sol Luna, knew the risks and still joined the protests, his first ever. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sol Luna was an artist, musician, and event host. Due to the shutdowns, Sol Luna is out of work like millions of people in the United States. When George Floyd’s murder sparked uprisings in Portland, Sol Luna felt compelled to go out to the protests to fight for Black children especially his own.

“The reason I am here at the protests is to fight for my kids’ future so they don’t have to participate in things like this,” Sol Luna told Colorlines. “So they can grow up and not be oppressed.” For Sol Luna, it’s more than just fighting for Black lives. It’s also for the future generation of Black people.

While protesting, Sol Luna documented the experience from the ground, showing everything in real-time by streaming the protests live on social media. “I wanted to prove that the news was lying about their claims that the protests were all riots,” Sol Luna told Colorlines. 

Prior to Sol Luna’s live streams of the Portland protests, President Trump reportedly deployed secret police who dragged protesters into unmarked vans. Street medics who were assisting protesters were targeted and attacked by Portland police, leaving them with bruises and injuries. The protests became so violent because of the police attacks on protesters that a group of them have now sued the Trump administration in response. 

Many media reports painted the violence happening in Portland as initiated by the protesters. 

Sol Luna’s live streams, however, showed the peaceful moments prior to police violence. From powerful chants to linking arms in solidarity, Sol Luna’s documentation of the protests captured the courage, anger, and persistence of organizers who want the police violence to end. He filmed the mobilization of protesters led by Black organizers as he marched in the crowds himself. 

His videos displayed a different narrative than footage captured by others. Sol Luna’s videos showed protesters as the victims rather than the assailants with shots of federal police in SWAT gear, blocking the march’s path, and running up towards protesters who were standing far from the police.

In this video for Colorlines, Sol Luna takes us along with him to the frontlines of the Portland protests as he is confronted by police violence while peacefully protesting.

Video Credits:

Producers: Tiye Rose, Priscilla Sam

Videographer: Calen Kennet 

Livestreamers: Sol Luna, Arex Johnson