Hundreds of protesters gathered at John Dam Plaza in Richland, Washington, on Saturday, July 4 to protest the national epidemic of racist police killings. People from all over the Tri-Cities attended the protest, which lasted from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The organizers, members of the local group Blackformation, spoke on the park stage about the movement for Black lives, and demanded justice for Gordon Whitaker, a local man who was killed by police. People then lined the busy street of George Washington Way, where they chanted and held signs before moving into the street.
Protesters then blocked the road for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, kneeling with their fists raised, in commemoration of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Several drivers aggressively attempted to force their way through the crowd. The protesters returned to the sidewalk for a time and then marched south, blocking traffic a second time. Drivers again recklessly tried to move through protesters. One driver hit a protester, who sustained minor injuries. Protesters then returned to the park where organizers spoke.
Gordon Whitaker was killed by police in Kennewick, Wa. in February. The Kennewick Police Department alleges he was running away when he was fatally shot. The three officers involved, Becca Henry, Zach Moore, and Dylan Markley, are all still employed by the Kennewick Police Department as of July 5. The Tri-Cities community has increasingly connected the national struggle against racist police violence to the killing of Whitaker.
Since protests began in May, the Tri-Cities have seen protests and community events every weekend in solidarity with the national uprisings. The movement continues to show its momentum and longevity, even despite intensifying local reactionary elements.