Ellensburg High School students are planning to march through the center of town Monday afternoon to honor George Floyd, the Black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s throat for several minutes, and to protest acts of police brutality. The organizers expect as many as several hundred people may join the protest in the college town, home of Central Washington University.
Ellensburg High junior Annie Schlanger, 17, said she and classmate Jenna Callan began organizing the march over the weekend. “We all feel frustrated, and especially in a community as small as Ellensburg, it’s sort of up to us to do something about it,” said Schlanger, who said the two are leaders in the Peace Club at their high school.
The march will begin at Barge Hall on the CWU campus at 4 p.m., and go 1.1 miles to City Hall. There, organizers will read out the names of Black people who have been killed in racial violence, and have a moment of silence for each one.
Schlanger said they initially expected 10 or 15 of their friends to join in, but the event has been widely shared in the county, including by the Kittitas County Democrats, although Schlanger stressed that it’s not intended to be a partisan event.
The event is intended to protest systematic prejudices and police brutality, and to honor the memory of Floyd and others, Schlanger said.
She said Kittitas County tends to be conservative politically, and that the organizers are worried about counterprotests and heckling. “We’ve really stressed a lot that this has to be a peaceful protest,” she said. “I think people will do a good job at ignoring the hecklers.”