On May 29, local activists in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, (population 11,739) and the greater Skagit County area held a march against racism marking the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd. Marchers gathered at Hammer Heritage Square in downtown Sedro-Woolley for sign-waving followed by a march of about 75 people through the business district starting at noon.
Organizer Matt Uyeno explained that he called the demonstration to “start a conversation regarding the history of racism” in Sedro-Woolley. He elaborated that there are current residents that proudly proclaim their grandparents were in the Ku Klux Klan and display Confederate flags. Last year, the local history society posted, without any context, a photograph from the 1920s of a Klan wedding in Sedro-Woolley with bride, groom and attendants wearing Klan regalia.
Uyeno continued that the uprising sparked by Floyd’s murder brought people out all last summer; this march was intended to re-energize that movement and keep people engaged.
Keeping the conversation about racism alive is about more than police brutality but includes other issues such as housing inequity and job discrimination. For instance in agriculture in Skagit County, workers picking the fruit lack adequate housing and are working in unhealthy work environments especially during fire season when the air is unsafe, Uyeno told Liberation News.
People came out not only from Sedro-Woolley but from other surrounding communities such as Marysville, Mt. Vernon, Anacortes and Stanwood. Many marchers carried hand-lettered signs with slogans such as “Rural people against racism,” “Police killing Black people is terrorism” and a photo of George Floyd with the words: “I can’t breathe.” Many cars that drove by honked and waved in support of the signs being held, far outnumbering any negative responses.