Wearing a black ball cap with a Klu Klux Klan emblem, Daniel Scott traveled from Yakima to Clarkston to stand for three hours Saturday on a swath of green-belt grass along U.S. Highway 12 and hold a sign.
Scott was among seven men who rallied, mostly quietly, between 1 and 4 p.m. under the watchful eye of Clarkston police on the west end of the Blue Bridge, prompting some motorists to honk in reaction to the “White Lives Matter” signs the men carried.
Andrew Brown, of Clarkston, said he organized the rally in conjunction with similar rallies set across the country as a peaceful protest of hate laws that he says target whites.
“It’s a pretty simple message we’re trying to get across,” Brown said. “The equality of hate crime legislation.”
Using a white megaphone and carrying a fistful of small U.S. flags on wooden dowels, Brown boomed his message across five lanes of traffic and a nearby parking lot.
“Hate crime for one, hate crime for all, equal justice under the law,” Brown exclaimed as he moved up and down the grassy park in front of a municipal holiday greeting display, as other protesters waved signs and flags at passing motorists.
Early on, police escorted a woman away from the protesters who gave them a piece of her mind, and midway through the rally two people showed up carrying an “All Lives Matter,” sign, and a sign that read “(Expletive) the KKK,” but there seemed to be no animosity between the two groups, Clarkston police Chief Joel Hastings said.
“They were taking pictures with each other,” Hastings said.
His department learned of the rally midweek and did not have a lot of time to prepare for it, he said, although it stepped up the number of officers on duty – which included Hastings – in preparation for a possible clash that did not materialize. A Black Lives Matter event last summer drew a handful of counter-protesters, he said.
Passing vehicles on Saturday often waved and honked at the men. In other cases, passengers rolled down their windows to shout expletives or flip off the protesters.
One of the protesters, who did not give his name, wore a mask because he said his girlfriend did not want to be associated with the rally.
“Their intention was to hold the signs, be respectful and not engage vehicles that had an opposing view,” Hastings said. “For the most part they have done that.”
Clarkston resident Mason Hubbard joined the group briefly.
“I support them. I don’t believe any group, regardless of ethnicity, should be suppressed,” Hubbard said.
Scott, who stayed close to his spot of grass at the edge of Riverside Boulevard, thought the rally was successful.
“It was peaceful,” he said “We got the message out.”
By 4 p.m., many of the protesters had gone, but police continued to stand by.
“We’re going to stay … until they are all safely out of here,” Hastings said.
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