More than 1,000 people lined up Wednesday afternoon around Capitol Lake to hold hands in a peaceful plea for community unity.
Hands Around Capitol Lake was organized by a group called Stronger Together Thurston County and inspired by a similar gathering in Seattle, where nearly 4,000 people circled Green Lake last weekend to take a stand against racism, homophobia, misogyny and Islamophobia.
Organizers of the Olympia event had hoped to draw about 2,000 people to form a complete 1.55-mile circle around Capitol Lake. The people of all ages who formed a human chain in the rain ended up covering a little more than two-thirds of the lake’s circumference.
After a brief moment of holding hands, the crowd dispersed by 1:15 p.m.
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Organizers said the Olympia event was not an anti-Donald Trump rally, but the fallout from the divisive presidential election was still fresh on the minds of many who attended.
“This is the worst election of my life, and I lived through Nixon,” said Olympia resident Scott McLain, who praised the purpose of Wednesday’s gathering. “We have to stand together. This is exactly what we should do.”
Said his wife, Pat McClain: “Regardless of what you think or believe, we’re still a community.”
The symbolism was strong for many who turned out.
“Humanity is going to win out,” said Janet Thuesen, a California resident who participated because she is visiting family this week in Olympia. “We’re not going to let (Trump) tear us asunder.”
Marilyn Sitaker said the strong sense of community at Wednesday’s event made her more proud to be an Olympia resident. She believes the country is “purple” rather than being divided into red and blue counties based on political party preferences.
“We have a lot of smart people with good hearts,” she said. “We have all kinds of opportunities to reach across these divides.”