On February 24th, protesters gathered in front of the Walla Walla Courthouse to voice concerns about a variety of issues, including the lack of a town hall. The protest, known as the “Where’s Cathy” protest, was directed at Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who marchers say refused to meet with them to set up a town hall.
Though the protest was peaceful, there was opposition. One man was seen ripping an organizer’s speech out of her hand and refused to leave the front steps of the courthouse. Additionally, a group of men on motorcycles tried to silence the protesters, revving their engines so no one could hear the speakers.
The Walla Walla Police Department says officers were present at the protest, but were not in uniform. Officials say officers were merely there to observe the protest and ensure no violence ensued.
Walla Walla City Manager, Nabiel Shawa, says the public has brought concerns to the city regarding the police presence at the protest. To better understand the security measures that were taken, Shawa says the police department will be presenting a report on how the protest was monitored by police.
“I think what we’re really looking forward tonight is how do we allow this…we have to allow this to occur, we want this to occur, we just want this to occur in a safer environment than what was perceived at this most recent event,” says Shawa.
Shawa explains there is a lot of respect for the police department, and the city hopes to determine the best ways of handling protests and demonstrations in the future.
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