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Saturday, July 4, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Citizens head downtown to clean up after protest escalates

UPDATED: Mon., June 1, 2020

Todd Kehne, 34, works to pick up broken glass following a downtown protest Sunday night on Monday, June 1, 2020, in downtown Spokane. When Atticus, the coffee shop Kehne works for,closed for the day, Kehne decided to work on picking up the aftermath of the prior night’s protest. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Todd Kehne, 34, works to pick up broken glass following a downtown protest Sunday night on Monday, June 1, 2020, in downtown Spokane. When Atticus, the coffee shop Kehne works for,closed for the day, Kehne decided to work on picking up the aftermath of the prior night’s protest. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Businesses and city crews worked Monday to clean up broken glass and graffiti in downtown Spokane after peaceful protests against police brutality turned violent.

Early in the day, a few citizens showed up downtown with trash bags and brooms to help clean the streets.

After Lexie Del Rosario heard the protest had devolved late Sunday night, she texted her friends and asked if they wanted to head downtown early Monday to clean up the streets.

“Since we weren’t down here yesterday, this is the least we could do,” Del Rosario said.

Del Rosario and her fiance, Devon McKinney, went downtown about 6:30 a.m. and started sweeping up glass. They saw about 20 other citizens cleaning the streets.

Their friend, Skylyn West, had attended the earlier, peaceful protest starting in Riverfront Park and ending at the Spokane County Courthouse.

At about 5 p.m. she got a text from a friend, who is an EMT, saying white supremacists were going to show up downtown. Proud Boys, militia groups and Antifa were present during the riot Sunday night, according to Police Chief Craig Meidl, but it was unclear if they participated in vandalism downtown.

“For my safety, I had to run home,” said West, who is Black.

For the rest of the night, West, who lives near Gonzaga University, heard a helicopter overhead and saw police cars speeding by.

Police had fired dozens of rounds of tear gas along with rubber bullets and beanbag rounds. A few shops had broken windows, and buildings had been tagged with phrases like “Capitalism is the virus” and “Justice for Floyd.”

James White, who works for ABM, a facilities management company, was called into work at 11 p.m. Sunday to help with the cleanup before the paint had even dried. Police were still dispersing the last of the rioters while White got to work.

At 7:30 Monday morning, White and his co-worker, Kyle Larison, were still scraping graffiti off the window of the Columbia Bank Building.

There are lots of approaches to remove graffiti, White said.

“There’s 100 different ways, scraper works, rubbing alcohol or harsher chemicals that are bad for your lungs,” White said.

The worst part will be removing paint from brick, something White estimates will take a few days without a specialized sandblaster tool.

“From the look of it, it’s probably going to be a whole week thing,” White said of cleaning downtown.

When Angel Gutierrez got to his job as a maintenance worker at the Legion Building at 7 a.m. Monday, he was surprised how little damage there was. He was expecting worse.

Gutierrez cleaned garbage off the sidewalk and started washing window sills.

It was just “a bit more work than normal,” Gutierrez said of getting the building ready for business.

Libby Barnes and Linn Aulow saw the protests on TV and decided they would go downtown to clean up. By the time the women donned their leggings and pink quarter zips and arrived downtown at 7:45 a.m. Monday, most of the work already had been done.

“We love the city, and we take a lot of pride in it,” Barnes said.

Barnes has lived in Spokane her whole adult life and is recently retired from Greater Spokane Incorporated, the region’s chamber of commerce.

“Just as citizens, I really appreciate that city and other volunteers got down here early,” Barnes said. “It really shows that they care about the community and the people.”

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