Protesters by the thousands gathered at the Capitol for the March for Floyd on Saturday, June 6. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Downtown streets will be closed for several hours Saturday afternoon as people gather for a rally titled “End White Silence.”

It’s the latest in a series of demonstrations that have occurred in recent weeks to protest police brutality after George Floyd was suffocated by a Minneapolis police officer who held a knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes.

On the rally’s Facebook page, event organizers said the noon event is planned as a peaceful, socially distant gathering to dismantle “the racist systems that have divided our country by keeping the black community at a disadvantage for far too long.”

The portion of Northeast Court Street in front of the Capitol, between 12th Street and Cottage Street, will be closed at 10 a.m.

At 2 p.m. State Street between Northeast Commercial Street and High Street, Front/Trade Street and Ferry Street between Northeast Commercial and Winter streets and Northeast Liberty Street between Mission Street and Court Street will be closed as people march to Salem City Hall on 55 Liberty Street S.E.

Streets are expected to reopen by 5:30 p.m.

Some of the speakers listed include Salem activist Oni Marchbanks, Salem City Councilors Jackie Leung and Tom Andersen, state Rep. Paul Evans and Heather Carmichael, a pastor from Albany.

The rally was organized by Julianne Jackson, Ari Woods and Brandy Woods.

Woods said there’s a common thread emerging of people who want to be allies for the black community but don’t know what that looks like. He’s hoping people will walk away from Saturday’s event with tangible steps they can take.

“We’re going to have a really raw vulnerable conversation about what this movement needs to look like outside of showing up to protests. It’s not just about showing up with a sign. There needs to be groundwork laid,” Woods said.

Woods, who is white, said he and his wife’s role in organizing the event is to echo and create a platform for black voices.

They were motivated to participate because they have a mixed-race son, Kamil, who could be a target of racial profiling like Floyd.

“He’s 13 and when things like George Floyd take place, we can see his face there,” Woods said.

On the Facebook event, 1,500 people have marked going while nearly 8,000 people have said they’re interested in the event.

“This is a learning experience for all allies and it's important that we all stay humble, teachable, and step up to the plate to leverage our privilege to create change. It is our responsibility to stand up and advocate for necessary change with hope of one day leading our country to a place within which we can begin to regain the trust of the black community,” the Facebook event states.

Saturday is expected to be rainy. The latest forecast from the National Weather Service shows showers between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and possibly a thunderstorm after 2 p.m.

RELATED COVERAGE: Hours of protest, speeches and peaceful march mark one of Salem's largest demonstrations

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