Downtown Olympia is expected to be quieter this weekend compared to Thursday night, when about 40 demonstrators marched the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement and protest two fatal police shootings.
Olympia resident Caro Gonzales, who helped organize Thursday’s demonstration, said no protests have been planned for Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
Gonzales said the goal Thursday night was to create a place to gather and grieve while also calling attention to Olympia’s shortcomings — specifically the sometimes contentious relationship between police and minorities or homeless youth.
“We like to say we’re progressive, but that’s false,” Gonzales told The Olympian. “We went out to have a peaceful protest and people tried to run us over and attack us all night.”
Olympia Police Lt. Paul Lower said the department will notify the public via Twitter in case of any protests or road closures.
“We are here to help people in the exercise of their First Amendment rights and attempt to make the area they choose to do so safe from traffic interference,” Lower wrote in an email. “We have the resources available this weekend to accommodate these events if needed.”
Protesters gathered Thursday in cities across the U.S. to express outrage over the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. Both of those black men were shot by police officers earlier this week. A protest in downtown Dallas turned deadly Thursday night when snipers killed five police officers and injured seven more.
In Olympia, the protesters marched through downtown Olympia and blocked vehicles at the Plum Street on-ramp to Interstate 5 before reassembling in front of City Hall.
Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts and Black Alliance of Thurston County chairwoman Karen Johnson issued a joint statement Friday in response to this week’s events.
“We are at a time in our country where violence is pulling communities apart. We must come together to address longstanding challenges between our black communities and law enforcement. We recognize that police violence is real and that prejudice exists. Violence against police, those whom we entrust the responsibility to keep us safe, and police violence against the people without accountability are not acceptable solutions.
“The solutions lie in moving toward each other, demonstrating a sense of unity and ownership for making our communities safe. We must focus our efforts on a culture of respect and equity for all. Building strong, trusting relationships and sound policing practices are critical to creating safe communities.”