Protesters staged a “die-in” outside Spokane City Hall Friday afternoon to protest the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and to encourage City Council members to take a more active role in police reform.
On the pavement outside City Hall, about 100 people, including young children, laid face down with their arms behind their backs, imitating the knee-on-neck restraint Floyd was held in. They remained for eight minutes, 46 seconds, the length of time Floyd was held.
A protester standing before the group shouted out Floyd’s last words, with those lying on the ground chanting them in a call-and-response.
“Please, please, please,” the protester chanted into a megaphone. “I can’t breathe.”
Demonstrator Anwar Peace said the minutes spent lying on the ground were “a spiritual experience.” Peace, who is Black, said he had been restrained, harassed and assaulted by police many times over 20 years as an activist in Seattle and wanted others to know what Floyd had gone through.
“When you’re being held or beaten, you just want to know when the pain will stop,” Peace said. “And for George Floyd, unfortunately it never did.”
After the time had elapsed, he yielded the floor to City Council President Breean Beggs, who had been lying on the concrete nearby.
Beggs spoke in support of the protesters’ efforts to make their voices heard in city government. In the past two weeks, Beggs said the City Council had received three to five times more emails from citizens than he had seen throughout his entire four-year tenure.
“When Spokane leads, the rest of the world notices and follows,” Beggs told the crowd.
Beggs said the City Council would be rolling out a list of planned police reforms next week and encouraged feedback from the community, telling those present to “keep speaking up.”
Rebecca Daignault-Walker, director of Spokane Street Aid, a group that sets up medic stations at protest events, said she especially wanted members of the City Council to take notice and had hoped more of them would be in attendance at Friday’s event.
Beggs was the only one of seven council members present, though the event’s organizers said in a Facebook post all were invited.
“We’re taking a stance of ‘silence is complicity,’ ” Daignault-Walker said. “Why aren’t you leading by example? We can scream and protest until the cows come home, but it is up to the council and the mayor to stop this if they want to.”
Another Black Lives Matter protest is planned for Sunday afternoon in downtown Spokane, starting at the Lilac Bowl amphitheater in Riverfront Park. The march through downtown will begin at 2 p.m. and is expected to end around 6 p.m.
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