PENDLETON — People traveling west through Pendleton can look up and to the right to see an example of the area’s local connection to the Black Lives Matter movement.
A billboard on Southeast Seventh Street and Court Avenue prominently displays the phrase used as a unifying message of the nationwide protest movement against police brutality and systemic racism. The billboard is set to display the message in Pendleton until at least mid-October thanks to a local crowdfunding campaign.
“I think it’s a symbol that this isn’t something that just impacts a small marginalized group because lots of people had to come together to donate their money to get this billboard up,” said Briana Spencer, one of the campaign’s donors who is Black and Puerto Rican and a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. “People always say put your money where your mouth is, and we did that.”
The campaign raised $2,670 as of Friday, July 24, and was inspired by a similar one in St. Helens, where residents raised enough funds to put up a Black Lives Matter billboard earlier this July.
Paige Snively, a 29-year-old living in Chicago who is originally from Pilot Rock, helped organize the campaign from afar after seeing local residents expressing interest in doing something similar on a Pendleton community Facebook page.
“That’s when I jumped in where I’m truthfully just a project manager for the cause,” Snively wrote in an email. “The real effort is being put in by those in the community every day to raise Black voices and awareness for the movement.”
The campaign raised the $1,200 necessary to install the billboard on July 20 and rent the space for one month within 24 hours of Snively setting it up July 1 on GoFundMe.com and advertising it on social media.
The quick response within the community surprised Snively as the campaign hit $1,845 on July 9, enough to rent the space for a second month, and then hit a goal of $2,495 on July 20, enough for a third month.
“I think that speaks to the level of belief and support in the community around the cause,” Snively stated in an email.
There have been 74 donors to the campaign so far, with contributions averaging a bit more than $35 and individual donations ranging from $5-$100.
If the campaign falls short of the making the monthly rent and billboard has to come down, the campaign indicates on its GoFundMe page the leftover donations will go to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.