Less than a week after a bomb was found along the route of the annual march commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., police are planning for another walk through downtown by hundreds of people.
A parade celebrating the Eastern Washington University football team’s national championship will start at noon Saturday at Main Avenue and Washington Street – near where the bomb was found on Monday.
“We don’t want to let what happened on Monday ruin what we hope to do for Eastern,” said Elizabeth Mills, marketing director for River Park Square, which is sponsoring the parade. “We want to bring Eastern Washington University to the forefront and bring them to Spokane so Spokane can celebrate with them.”
Spokane police spokeswoman Officer Jennifer DeRuwe said the department would not comment on security measures for the parade or if police presence will be increased as a result of the bomb.
“I know that Monday’s event is on the minds of many people in the community,” DeRuwe said. “We’ll do our best to keep everybody safe.”
The parade will end at River Park Square only a few blocks from where it starts. In the mall’s atrium, a rally will be held and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and County Commissioner Mark Richard will address the crowd. Head coach Beau Baldwin and some players also will answer questions in front of the crowd. The football team will parade on a flatbed truck. Fans are welcome to walk behind the parade to the mall’s atrium, where confetti will drop during the rally, Mills said.
River Park Square is owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.
On Monday, three people working for a company that contracts with Spokane Public Facilities District found the backpack that contained the bomb. The Martin Luther King Jr. Day march was diverted and the bomb was de-activated. The FBI has labeled the placement of the bomb an act of “domestic terrorism.”
DeRuwe said that the same kind of planning that assisted police in dealing with the bomb on Monday is in place for Saturday. She noted, for instance, that coordinators of the King march obtained a special events permit and police knew who to contact to quickly divert the parade. The organizers of the EWU parade also have a permit and have been working in advance with police.
“Certainly, (the bomb has) created discussion,” DeRuwe said. “It’s safe to say that we can learn from each event.”