Alejandra Lopez

Alejandra Lopez chants ‘Black Lives Matter’ during a protest in Warrenton last week.

Alejandra Lopez describes herself as a born fighter.

The 16-year-old Warrenton High School student behind the Black Lives Matter protests in Astoria and Warrenton vowed not to stop until state and national leaders take steps to address police brutality and racial injustice.

“I’m always just a fighter, a born fighter. I like doing what is right,” she said at a protest Monday afternoon outside the Astoria post office. “I think also because I’m a person of color, it kind of is like the starting point of a whole change in society.

“This is not just a trend that you can follow on Instagram — this is a movement. This isn’t a thing that you can just pay attention to and then forget about the next day. This is a thing that is going to change the world.”

Lopez hopes to see government money used to fund police redirected toward mental health and addiction treatment.

The teenager planned the series of protests the day before the first one was held last week in Astoria. She was motivated after a demonstration on May 31 outside the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria for George Floyd, a black man killed by Minneapolis police.

“I saw that we had a protest, but it was only for one day, and I wanted to do something more than that,” she said. “So I started designing the flyer and everything and then I posted it, and it spread all over everywhere.”

The largest turnout so far was on Saturday afternoon, when a few hundred people converged downtown. A cadre of counterprotesters — far-right activists with the message “All Lives Matter” — have sought to disrupt the demonstrations.

“I feel I’ve accomplished a lot of people coming out here,” Lopez said. “I remember Saturday’s protest, hundreds of people marched. Seeing that, I was like, ‘Wow, I can make a difference in this town,’ and I think I will.”

Lopez, who founded the multicultural club at Warrenton High School, said she has received help from several people and organizations.

“And I really appreciate that support, and I think that will help me get further in this journey of spreading the awareness and spreading that we can change something,” she said.

Activists with Indivisible North Coast Oregon, a progressive group, have participated in the protests and organized car parades to honk and cheer on the demonstrators.

Laurie Caplan, the group’s chairwoman, said she was thrilled to learn a student was behind the protests. “We are always delighted to find people who believe in social justice and racial justice and are willing to step up and act on their belief,” she said.

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

(4) comments

Andy Rich

This is awesome. Nice work, Alejandra!

Lucy Delray

I commend Ms. Lopez for being a social activist. When most 16 year old's are focused on themselves and their social lives she is focused on making a difference in the world. But, I wonder if she has given any thought to the consequences of her organized protests going bad where it turns violent and people are injured and maybe killed and there is property destruction? I wonder if she has considered or even cares about the consequences these protests can lead? Our country has been devastated by protests that have evolved into riots and I would hate to see this in our own community. I also beg to differ with the idea that people who let their voices be heard that ALL lives matter instead of just Black Lives Matter should be labeled as Right Wing Extremists. To try and silence a person for their beliefs with a negative label is no different than anyone in our community trying to silence this young lady for her convictions.

William Matlock

BLM doesn't give one cr*p about black people. Name 1 thing they have done for black people. waiting... Don't hear them saying anything about the 35 shot, 5 fatally in Chicago this last weekend. And that had nothing to do with the riots. Thats a normal weekend. What is BLM doing about that? And just wait until they defund or disband the Police dept. It will be game on!! BLM is a terrorist group who wants to destroy the United States of America! Wake up people! And get the heck off of social media.

Miller Sands

"Name 1 thing they have done for black people. waiting.."

Going out on a limb here, but maybe that one thing is raising national awareness of what seems to be repeated instances of police brutality and fatal force used on unarmed black men by public servants. That is what they do. Real organized BLM doesnt loot or riot. thats done by unorganized mobs. Maybe you should read more then you'll learn more instead of taking the rightwing bulloney as gospel

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