Walking advocacy group honors Don’t Shoot PDX with ‘Walkstar’ award

Walking advocacy group honors Don’t Shoot PDX with ‘Walkstar’ award

Walkers for racial justice on the Burnside Bridge on June 1st.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In the latest sign of evolution in the transportation advocacy world, Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Walks has named Don’t Shoot PDX as a winner of one of their ‘2020 Oregon Walkstar’ awards.

Don’t Shoot PDX formed in 2014 in response to the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The group has been on the frontlines of Portland’s protests against racial justice. In June they filed a lawsuit against the City of Portland over the use of tear gas against people protesting in the street*.

“We don’t just walk to get to work or to school or for health. We walk and roll for change.”
— Jess Thompson, Oregon Walks

Oregon Walks Executive Director Jess Thompson shared in an interview this morning that the award is just the latest example of how her organization is changing. “Oregon Walks is working to listen and understand what safety in the right-of-way looks like and feels like to a wider base of people,” she said. “We’ve tried to expand away from just transportation policy and really look at what the experience of walking is like for a wide variety of people.”

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The award is also an acknowledgment of the vital role foot-powered people play in social movements — and the expansion of what Thompson refers to as, “The expansion of paramilitary operations against people walking for justice.” Seeing people gassed and brutalized for being on the street has spurred a reckoning of how Oregon Walks envisions their role. “We don’t just walk to get to work or to school or for health. We walk and roll for change,” Thompson said.

And when it comes to the march for social change, Oregon Walks says Don’t Shoot PDX is leading the way.

The 2020 Oregon Walkstar Awards (formerly known as the Weston Awards) event will happen online September 18th. You can get free tickets and learn more here.

(*Interesting aside: Timur Ender, the Portland transportation bureau employee who was the subject of an OPB story this week after he and his family were tear gassed in their homes during a protest, is an Oregon Walks board member.)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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