A Reflection on the 13th Annual Memorial Event

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By Burgin Utaski

The 13th Annual Memorial for Keaton Otis was held recently in Lloyd, along NE 6th and Halsey, serving as a poignant reminder of the tragic loss of a young Black man by Portland police on May 12, 2010. This occasion not only allowed the community to mourn Keaton’s death but also provided an opportunity to honor his life and advocate for justice against police violence. The event was filled with meaningful activities and gatherings, bringing people together in unity and remembrance. 

One of the central purposes of the memorial was to celebrate Keaton Otis’s life, highlighting the joy and vibrancy he brought to those around him. The event offered a painting activity for children, inviting them to express themselves through art by painting some of Keaton’s favorite shapes. This interactive session not only engaged the younger participants but also allowed them to connect with Keaton’s spirit and leave their creative mark. Visitors were also asked to share their affirmations for Keaton and his father, Fred Bryant, which were posted for viewing. Our friends at Street Books came by with an abundance of books on wheels, and local business owner CoKiea’s Kitchen provided attendees with an amazing vegan gumbo, fried okra, and dessert. 

At the heart of the event was the unwavering demand for justice not only for Keaton but also for countless others whose lives have been taken by police violence. The vigil served as a platform for individuals to stand together and voice their concerns, calling for accountability and systemic change. Reverend Dr. LeRoy Haynes, Walidah Imarisha, and several of Keaton’s family and friends delivered powerful messages, urging the community to continue the fight against racial injustice and police brutality. Event leaders also featured a screening of a short documentary showcasing the Keaton Otis Memorial Art Project. Stay tuned for a link to watch the video.

The event encapsulated the spirit of remembrance, justice, and community engagement. It served as a reminder that even in the face of tragedy, community and unity can pave the way for meaningful change. As the monthly vigil continues to honor Keaton’s memory, it also serves as a call to action for a more just and equitable society, where lives are no longer stolen by unnecessary violence.

On the 12th of each month, there is a vigil to mourn Keaton’s loss, honor his life, and to demand justice for Keaton and all loved ones stolen by police violence. Take a look at our events page to attend the next one. Thank you again to the Justice for Keaton Otis planning team that works to put on events like these.