200 supporters rally at NAACP after delivery of racist materials
Sat., March 7, 2015
Della Montgomery-Riggins has tears rolling down her face as she listens to speakers at a rally Friday in downtown Spokane. Those at the rally were responding to a racist and threatening package received by NAACP President Rachel Dolezal. Dozens of supporters linked arms and sang songs in a show of solidarity with the NAACP. (Dan Pelle)
Nearly 200 people linked arms and sang songs outside the NAACP’s Spokane office Friday afternoon to show solidarity with the organization after a package of racist materials was delivered last week.
The package was addressed to Rachel Dolezal, the new president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. On Friday she linked arms with the Rev. Happy Watkins, a civil rights leader known for his annual recitations of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and thanked the crowd for coming.
“It’s good to see so many faces,” she said. “We’ll pull through this. I’m confident we’ll emerge stronger and better.”
The Rev. Todd Eklof of the Unitarian Universalist Church said he felt the need to organize the event to show that the Spokane community doesn’t agree with such racist behavior. He said he also wanted to comfort and support Dolezal.
“The vast number of people are extremely disturbed when something like this happens,” he said. “It’s a way for the community to come together and say not here, not in our neighborhood. We can’t let this go unanswered.”
Members of his church attended the rally, as did members of New Hope Baptist, St. Paul’s United Methodist, Bethany Presbyterian and All Saints Lutheran churches. The Peace and Justice Action League, the Center for Justice and many other groups were represented as well.
Adian Hart, 17, said she got excused from The Community School to attend the noon rally. She’s studying the Bill of Rights in school and wanted to see the First Amendment in action.
“It’s all about supporting each other,” she said. “We judge each other way too much, on race, class (and) education level.”
Charles Thornton, first vice president of the local NAACP, said he believes it’s a small percentage of people who don’t like what his organization does.
“I’m happy that there is a response from the community,” he said.
There has been an additional incident since the package was received, Thornton said. Dolezal’s teenage son was home alone one night recently when he heard noises outside.
“There were some large footprints outside,” Thornton said. “It scared him quite a bit.”
Eklof said the community would fight against the “disgusting” threats of violence contained in the package.
“We know this is not something our community stands for,” he said.
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