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Hundreds Join "We Can't Breathe" Protest In Portland

The frigid temperatures didn't stop close to 300  people from gathering for a rally downtown.

Chanting  we can't breathe,  black lives matter,  and  hands up don't shoot, the rally was similar to others taking place around the country in the wake of several well-publicized incidents involving fatal encounters between African-Americans and police officers. 

Protestors called for an end to police violence and a justice system which they say disproportionately targets black people. 

"For far too long, those in power have brutalized poor people and people of color." said protestor, Adinah  Barnett of Portland. "A  lot of people have known about police brutality for a long time... but it's still going on, and they're not being held accountable. It's simply not okay."

Those gathered at the event called for moments of silence to honor Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, three African-Americans who recently lost their lives in police encounters.

 Lisa Morris of Portland said she came to the event in support of the victims, and to encourage all who care about ending racism to open up a dialog about race issues. "Talking to your white friends about it," she said, "It's not an easy conversation to have, but you've got to do it."

The lead organizers of the event were Portland's Racial Justice Congress and the USM coalition Student Voices of Difference and Unity.

 Police say no arrests were made at the march. Another event, sponsored in part by Maine NAACP,  is scheduled to take place in Portland on Sunday afternoon.