Activists gathered at Tuesday night’s Spokane Valley City Council meeting for a rally beforehand to protest white supremacism and racism.
About 40 attended and packed the council chambers afterward for what, at times, became a bit of raucous meeting. From the dais, Mayor Rod Higgins occasionally had to reel in those in attendance who spoke or yelled out of turn.
“Knock it off out there,” he said.
Members of Valley Indivisible Progressives, led by Leilani DeLong, staged the protest, who says they are concerned that Higgins had participated in an event held by Northwest Grassroots and hosted by James Allsup, noted for white nationalist leanings.
“The city of Spokane Valley needs to pass a resolution against white nationalism,” DeLong said in the second of two 30-minute public-speaking opportunities at the meeting.
Cecily Wright resigned as chairwoman of the Spokane County Republican Party board earlier this month after criticism for introducing Allsup at a Northwest Grassroots meeting in July.
Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase has also faced criticism for attending the meeting but said he and Higgins were unaware of Allsup’s reputation as a racist.
“We did not know who James Allsup was and we did not hear him say anything racist,” Chase said. “There were calls for our resignation from public office because of our attendance and, yet, we did nothing wrong and that is the truth.”
The council passed an anti-discrimination resolution in March, but protestors said the city needs to do more.
“Communities that aren’t welcoming and don’t celebrate diversity doesn’t speak well for the location for people looking to create business opportunities,” said Gary VanDusen, a resident of Liberty Lake.