Students march in Black Lives Matter demonstration

REBECCA WHITE, Evergreen assistant news editor

Several hundred people clad in black marched from Beasley Coliseum to Thomas Hammer Coffee Roasters downtown on Friday in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

Sophomore Brianna Smathers and former WSU running start student Sabine Pendry organized the event to mourn the victims of police brutality and bring awareness to the Pullman community of these issues happening elsewhere.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of cases of police brutality and a lot of our black and brown brothers and sisters being senselessly murdered by the police,” Smathers said. “So seeing Alton Sterling get killed and how he got killed … that was just one too many and I had to do something about it.”

Pendry noted that the demonstration was not in any way tied to the conduct of WSU or Pullman Police, with whom they said they have a great rapport, but rather the militarization and unnecessary force used by police in general.

“It’s important to note that this issue is not adversarial,” Pendry said. “It’s not pro-black, anti-cop, it’s pro-black, pro-cop. It’s not one group of people against another, but rather a bunch of people coming together to fight a system.”

The WSU and Pullman Police Departments contacted the group in advance to offer to protect them during the demonstration and also to notify them of the permits they would need to legally conduct the march. WSU Police Sgt. Dawn Daniels said many of the issues in past demonstrations and protests were actually caused by people from out of the area.

“We wanted to be able to make sure they were safe and able to express their opinions,” Daniels said.

President of the Black Student Union Khalil Pettway and president of the Middle Eastern Student Association Muhammad Abd-Elhady Salem gave speeches before and after the march and a demonstrator read the Prayer of St. Francis which was followed by a moment of silence for the victims.

Keenan Grayson, a senior psychology major who marched, believes participating in events such as this will bring people together and closer to solving the problems of racial profiling and brutality in law enforcement.

“I want to do something,” Grayson said. “I think doing nothing adds to the problem by making it seem like it’s not worth fighting for. There’s power in numbers.”