Hundreds march down G-Way during Richland BLM protest on Fourth of July
RICHLAND, Wash. — Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters spent their Fourth of July afternoon marching in the streets of Richland, many of them choosing to wear black on the holiday known for the colors red, white and blue.
The protest started at John Dam Plaza at 11 a.m. in a way similar to past peaceful protests in the Tri-Cities in the wake of George Floyd’s death: people lining the streets, a number of of them standing in the turn lane in the middle of George Washington Way as they chanted about justice and waved signs at passing cars.
According to a Facebook event page, the purpose of the protest was to denounce racism in the US and also declare that “the reality that freedom is designated to a select few” should not be celebrated until change is met.
“Being that this a historical day to celebrate a false idea of American Independence we feel it is necessary exercise our freedom to take a stand in solidarity with one another as a movement . . . We celebrate the idea of real Independence for all Americans Junteenth June 19, 1865 and not the white washed narrative of July 4, 1776,” the event page says.
The black attire worn by protesters during the event was chosen deliberately as part of this sentiment.
At about 1 p.m., protest leaders called for the crowd of protesters to get in the street and block George Washington Way in both directions for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, a symbol for how long it took for Floyd to be killed by Minneapolis police.
Afterward, the protesters began to march in the middle of the street toward State Route 240. Police arrived a short time later and briefly parked ahead of the protesters, but they did not appear to try to stop the march.
At about the point where G-Way meets SR 240, protesters decided to turn around and continue marching back toward John Dam Plaza, many walking in through lines of cars.
While a number of blocked cars honked in support of protesters, tensions between some of the protesters and drivers became heated, with angry shouts between a small number of protesters and divers.
One exchange led to a protester punching a minivan’s passenger side window as the driver tried to slowly move through the crowd, then sped off and left the scene. The protester’s foot was reportedly run over by the minivan at some point during the incident, and he was carried out of the road and onto the sidewalk by fellow protesters. His injury did not appear serious.
The protest largely remained peaceful, with protest leaders running to break up a handful of verbal altercations between certain protesters and drivers.
Protesters arrived back at John Dam Plaza just before 2 p.m. and cleared the road as they regrouped.