Spokane resident Sarah Peterson isn’t generally an activist.
But as she grew more concerned about the events Ferguson, Missouri, she decided to take action.
She organized a rally, took to Facebook and spread word to her church, Spokane Friends Church, and to the Spokane Peace and Justice Action League.
The result was a drive-time rally with about 40 people Friday evening at Monroe Street and Riverside Avenue, across from the Spokane Club.
“I hope that the people Ferguson, Missouri, see that we see what’s going on there and that we want to stand in solidarity with them,” said Peterson, who held a sign that said “Makes me wanna holler.”
Earlier this month, a police officer in Ferguson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was unarmed. Federal authorities are investigating if his civil rights were violated.
Peterson said the event wasn’t just about what’s happening in Missouri. She believes “police brutality and systematic racism” are problems locally in police departments. She noted the 2011 conviction of a Spokane police officer for lying to investigators and violating the civil rights of Otto Zehm, who died in police custody.
Spokane resident Inga Laurent, who held a sign that read “Hands up, don’t shoot,” said she hasn’t experienced profiling by Spokane officers but believes it likely is a problem given the disproportionate percentage of minorities in the Spokane County Jail compared to the local population.
She, too, said she attended to show support for Michael Brown’s family but also to shed light on local policing issues.
“It is an extremely complex and nuanced issue,” Laurent said. “But we do need to more aware. We need to work harder to come up with better solutions. Killing someone cannot be the answer.”