More than 200 cars flashing hazard lights and decorated in signs participated Saturday in Spokane’s Vehicle Procession for Black Lives, a socially distanced event hosted by the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.
The event was co-sponsored by 12 other local organizations, including the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, Black Lens News and KYRS community radio station, which played chants, protest songs and quotes from civil rights leaders throughout the event.
Megan Pirie’s family was one of dozens with small children that took part.
Pirie, co-founder of the Eastern Washington chapter of All of Us or None, a civil rights organization supporting incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people and families, and her partner Stanley Harewood brought their five children, ages 3 through 12.
Their daughter, Kaydance “Panda” Pirie, 6, held a sign saying “Please don’t kill my brother” in front of her family’s car, which was decorated in Black Lives Matter signs.
Megan said she couldn’t bring her children to last Sunday’s protest because they considered it too dangerous, and they won’t attend this Sunday’s protest for the same reason. They’ve been keeping their kids socially distanced, but they wanted to show up.
“They gotta stop killing us,” Megan said.
The 11-mile route on the South Hill stretched from 14th to 57th avenues, passing Manito Golf & Country Club and Manito Park. Cars started about noon and honked the whole, 2-hour route, obeying traffic laws and navigating mostly right turns. Families, couples and individuals stood in their yards waving, holding up power fists, bouncing babies on their hips, petting their dogs and holding up signs in solidarity with the line of cars.
As cars stretched across a mile pumped “Fight the Power” on their speakers, one woman of color stood on the side of a residential street smiling, crying and “throwing kisses,” Black protester Pat Hicks, 64, said upon her return to the procession’s starting point at the empty Albertson’s parking lot at 37th Avenue and Grand Boulevard.
Hicks said she’s only lived in Spokane for three months and the procession was “a good look at Spokane, a really good city.”
Veniece Green, a Black protester with “BLM” painted on her forehead, said she’d never experienced racism until she moved to Spokane. She lived in San Bernadino, California, and Las Vegas before Spokane.
“I feel like the media isn’t on our side. Our protests were peaceful and all I saw was pictures of looting,” Green said. “Here, people do care through the chaos. You always have somebody, even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
Green marched alongside moving cars with a fist in the air and toting a “Black Lives Matter” sign.
People who registered for the event received a Google document from organizers, which listed directions for the procession’s route, recommendations to keep distanced and steps to take outside of protesting. The list of steps included a phone number and recommendation to call Mayor Nadine Woodward’s office to ask that she denounce armed militia presence at peaceful protests.
The document also encouraged white people to discuss systemic racism with friends and family who say, “I wish people wouldn’t riot.”
“Let them know we think it’s really important to recognize that Black people have been experiencing racial violence for 400 years,” the document reads. “The outrage is real and justified. Black lives matter more than buildings. As (Martin Luther) King said, riots are the language of the unheard. Corporations have insurance and can rebuild; George Floyd will remain murdered.”
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