Hundreds of citizens flocked to the intersection of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue Wednesday, protesting racism, the death of George Floyd and other black people, and police brutality.
The demonstration of between 200 and 300 individuals included a 12-block march west to Walmart before returning to Sequim’s main downtown intersection, eliciting cheers and horn-honking from motorists.
The Sequim protest comes on the heels of dozens of other demonstrations across the nation, including Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
Courtney Thomas, who organized the event through social media, said she was moved in recent days to do something locally.
“I’m scared for the world, for my son; I don’t want this world for my son,” Thomas said, with 5-year-old S. Beckett nearby holding a sign with a gathering in downtown Sequim. “We will not be silenced. We will not stand for this.
“This is the least I can do.”
Thomas said she was thrilled to see the turnout grow so large, with more than 200 people crowding the four corners at Washington Street and Sequim Avenue by noon.
“I was thinking maybe I could get 30 (to come out),” she said.
Thomas said that as a local business owner — she operates Peaceful Kneads Corrective Massage in Sequim — she hopes that anyone can feel comfortable walking into a Sequim shop. “That’s not happening right now,” she said.
Sequim police chief Sherri Crain said that the Wednesday event was a peaceful one.
She said that Staff Sgt. Sean Madison, who was at the demonstration and subsequent march, was in touch with protest organizers prior to the noontime demonstration, which was beneficial for both the group and police department.
“They were vocal; they were organized,” Crain said.
She said that though there have been some violent protests across the nation, with much of the anger directed toward police, she didn’t hear or get reports of protesters directing that toward Sequim law officers.
“We’re not getting any concerns or issues with us,” Crain said.
“This is very a emotional time — what I call a moment,” she said.
“It’s easy to see the racial unrest and problems; some part of the country are doing better than others,” she said. “There are a lot of things happening in parts of the country we as a society need to address.
“We (law enforcement departments) are learning as we go along (and) in general our profession has grown,” she said.
“There’s room for a bigger conversation.”
The City of Sequim also posted on facebook that the protests remained peaceful throughout, despite rumors to the contrary. Crain said she talked to a local business owner who during the protests posted a video warning locals of potential violence and disorderly conduct. After a conversation with that owner, the video was taken down, she said.
“I get that their heart’s in the right place, (but) rumors and bad information can do a lot of harm,” Crain said.
She said the department fielded phone calls for much of the day about what turned out to be a non-violent demonstration, calling it a “cautionary tale.”
The city’s social media post noted, “At no point at today’s event, was there any factual evidence suggesting violent or bad actors. Members of the community are reminded that rumors that get out of control can make people nervous and panic unnecessarily. During this time of national crisis, it is important to remember that people do want to be heard and we can anticipate more protests. It is in our history to support peaceful protests in our community from groups that need to be heard. The Sequim Police Department, as always, will monitor these events.
“Please disregard any rumors that members of Antifa are being bused to Sequim from out of town. There is no police intelligence to support this rumor.”
See more photos from the event here.