Witness describe event as peaceful; organizers promoted it as ‘a Black Lives Matter protest to support our community’
VANCOUVER — A protest took place Wednesday afternoon along E. Mill Plain Blvd. in east Vancouver. About 200 people gathered for the event, which was described by witnesses as “peaceful.’’
Information about the event circulated on social media. It was described by organizers, who indicated they would be “throwing a Black Lives Matter protest to support our community.’’ The gathering comes after many days of protests around the country prompted by the death of George Floyd, who died May 25 while being taken into custody by law enforcement officials in Minneapolis, Minn.
The participants of Wednesday’s event carried signs and chanted as they peacefully marched along E. Mill Plain Blvd. from the 7-11 convenience store at NE 98th Ave. down to the crosswalk near PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center. The participants then crossed E. Mill Plain Blvd. and marched back to the start of their gathering.
A witness indicated there was one homeowner who expressed unhappiness that the demonstration was taking place in front of their residence but most homeowners in the area were seen offering support to the participants, as did motorists who drove by, showing support by honking their horns and waving. One person was even witnessed handing out food and beverages to the participants.
Vancouver NAACP issues statement
Tuesday night, the Vancouver branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a statement about the recent deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery as well as the recent officer-involved shooting of William Abbe by officers from the Vancouver Police Department.
“Vancouver NAACP condemns the recent actions by police, law enforcement, and justice officials in the deaths (of) George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, GA. We also condemn the recent killing of William Abbe here in Vancouver,’’ read the statement from NAACP Vancouver Branch 1139. “Videos of a Minneapolis policeman killing Mr. George Floyd while he begged for his life, and while three other officers stood by and watched, left us once again dismayed, angered and exhausted as we watched another black man needlessly and intentionally killed by police.
“Here in Vancouver, we continue to call for the end to disparate treatment by police of black people and people of color and the mentally ill,’’ the statement read. “Videos of the recent shooting of William Abbe, a homeless man, who may have been experiencing a mental health crisis at the time, were disturbing. We want to know how and why VPD Officers, notwithstanding the extent and nature of the threats posed by Mr. Abbe on that day, determined that the use of deadly force was the only reasonable or necessary way to end the incident or to fulfill their duty to protect and serve the citizens of Vancouver in good faith.
“We will continue to protest and demand change and accountability by law enforcement and justice departments in our country and in our City of Vancouver,’’ the statement read. “We recognize that people need ways to express their grief, frustration, and anger. At YWCA Clark County, you will find a memorial for George Floyd. We welcome your flowers, notes, and other mementos honoring his life.’’
The statement also reported plans for an event on Sat., June 6. The Vancouver NAACP will host a “Car Rally for Black Lives.” For more information and to register, go to https://www.naacpvancouverwa.org/ .