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WA Lege Day 8: Making a chilling protest statement

Taylor Malone of Spokane removed her shirt during a protest to symbolize that with cuts to programs, some people have to make the choice between feeding their familes and buying them clothes

OLYMPIA — Some 300 people, including about 75 from Spokane, marched through downtown to the steps of the Capitol Monday, demanding the Legislature fullfill Martin Luther King's dream by doing more to help the poor.

Some made statements with chants like “The people united will never be defeated.”

Others made statements with cards that held a legislator's name, and a letter grade for how the Washington Community Action Network thinks they voted in the last session issues of race and economic justice.

Taylor Malone of Spokane made a statement by taking off her shirt and standing through the half-hour rally on the steps in a bra and jeans. In recent years, she said, the Legislature has cut social service programs, forcing some people to choose between buying adequate food or adequate clothing for their families.

Instead of more cuts, the Legislature should close some tax breaks for businesses, she said.

Malone said she  has been active in Spokane protests to support gay rights and to  help victims of sexual assault, and against the Westboro Baptist Church. But it was her first protest in Olympia, were temperatures were in the mid-30s under fog-shrouded skies. The obvious question was whether she was cold.

“Truthfully? I am,” she admitted. After the rally, she put on shirt and coat before joining a group visiting 3rd District legislators.

Also coming from Spokane was Wendla Fryar, an Eastern Washington University graduate student working on her masters in social work, who hoped to talk to legislators from Spokane's 6th District about preserving or restoring social programs.

Fryar suffers from lupus, and needs to take 13 different prescription drugs every day to manage her symptom, but was dropped from the Medicaid program that helped cover her drug costs. She receives a grant to help with college costs and food stamps, and is worried about cuts to those programs, too.

“I can't survive without those programs,” she said.