Adja Maïmouna Fame (center) becomes emotional as she stands with her three sons, Djibril Garcia (left), Kamil Garcia (top) and Kareem Garcia during the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Adja Maïmouna Fame (center) becomes emotional as she stands with her three sons, Djibril Garcia (left), Kamil Garcia (top) and Kareem Garcia during the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hundreds march through Everett, take a knee for George Floyd

At a peaceful rally at the municipal building, speakers talked of their experiences with racism.

EVERETT — At least 800 people gathered in Everett Saturday afternoon to protest police brutality. They marched through the streets, raised signs and fists, and chanted.

“This will be a peaceful protest, so keep it loud, but keep it peaceful,” shouted 20-year-old Michael Larson, an Everett High School graduate who helped organize the event and led the crowd from the intersection of Everett Avenue and Broadway.

Just a few Everett police officers on bicycles were posted along the march route. Some marchers asked them to join in. The officers stayed put but didn’t interfere with the protest. One man in the crowd recognized an officer and went up to hug him. They exchanged laughter.

Larson said two high school students, who are white, reached out to him to help lead a protest. He agreed and quickly found others to assist. They spread the message on social media, with the goal of getting at least 200 people to come out. The Everett Police Department contacted the organizers and agreed to barricade some streets.

The goal was to put black voices front and center, Larson said. It was his first time organizing a protest, and he said he plans to keep using his voice to speak out against injustice for as long as he’s alive.

The protest was just one of many taking place around the region and the world this weekend.

Also on Saturday, dozens lined sidewalks in Mill Creek at the intersection of 164th Street Southeast and Bothell-Everett Highway. More protests were planned in the county. People are planning to gather at noon Sunday at the high school in Granite Falls. And at 5 p.m., another group plans a march starting at the Mukilteo Library.

A large crowd blocks Broadway in downtown Everett during the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A large crowd blocks Broadway in downtown Everett during the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Unrest in the nation was ignited by a video showing a Minneapolis officer killing George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — despite pleas from Floyd that he couldn’t breathe.

Larson said his first thought upon seeing the video was, “Am I next?”

Saturday’s march ended at the Everett Municipal Building, where the crowd in unison took to a knee. They stayed silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

After the time was up, Larson spoke.

“Eight minutes and forty-six seconds,” he said. “For as uncomfortable as it was for us to take that silence, it was nothing compared to what George Floyd went through and the pain he faced before his death.”

Speakers included Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas; Ashley Smith, an educator with the Edmonds School District; Everett Community College President Daria Willis; and the Rev. Paul Stoot of Greater Trinity Church in Everett. Several students also spoke.

All the speakers were black. They all told stories of personally experienced racism. One girl said she wanted to awaken up from this nightmare.

“It sucks, man,” another student said of the experiences of black people. “Plainly, it sucks.”

If high school students could tell stories of racism at such a young age, Larson later said, he could only imagine the experiences of older generations.

Willis said her mother went to a segregated school and, despite being valedictorian, was told she shouldn’t bother going to college.

“And guess what, she didn’t,” Willis said.

Protesters walk down Colby Avenue while chanting on Saturday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Protesters walk down Colby Avenue while chanting on Saturday in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

But Willis did go to college and went on to get a Ph.D. in history from Florida State University. Last year she was appointed the 17th president of EvCC, and the first who is African American.

Willis encouraged people to make their voices heard, both on the streets and at the polls.

“We don’t need politicians, we need leaders who love the people,” she said.

Toward the end of her speech, Smith told everyone to put their phones down. “It’s not a photo opp, it’s not a moment, it’s a movement,” she said. She asked all the students in the crowd who were black to come to the front.

At least 50 young people walked up. They faced the hundreds gathered for the rally. Smith faced the kids.

Hundreds of protesters walk down Everett Avenue on Saturday, June 6, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Hundreds of protesters walk down Everett Avenue on Saturday, June 6, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

“The last thing I have to say is,” Smith said, “you matter.”

By 5 p.m., a rain storm swept across Everett, soaking those in attendance. It hailed. Lightning flashed. Thunder cracked.

Many stuck around. Some huddled under umbrellas and awnings. Others let themselves get drenched. Smith commended those who stayed.

“When the sun comes, what comes with that?” she said. “A rainbow.”

Stoot closed with a prayer, offering a message that everyone should be “all hands on deck” to bring about change. And as the crowd marched back to Broadway, a rainbow arced over the city.

Zachariah Bryan: 425-339-3431; zbryan@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @zachariahtb.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A Boeing 747-8, Boeing's new passenger plane, takes its first flight, Sunday, March 20, 2011, at Paine Field in Everett, Wash. After more than half a century, Boeing is rolling its last 747 out of a Washington state factory on Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Boeing’s last 747 to roll off the Everett assembly line

The Queen of the Skies was dethroned by smaller, more fuel-efficient jets. The last 747s were built for a cargo carrier.

PUD workers install new transformers along 132nd Street on Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022 in Mill Creek, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Electric vehicles spur big forecast jump for PUD demand

Not long ago, the Snohomish County PUD projected 50,000 electric cars registered in the county by 2040. Now it expects up to 660,000.

Traffic moves northbound on I-5 through Everett on Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Grinding work still needed for I-5 through Everett

Construction crews need warmer temps for the work to remove what a reader described as “mini raised speed bumps.”

After a day of learning to fight fires, Snohomish firefighter recruit Chau Nguyen flakes a hose as other recruits load the hoses onto a fire truck April 19, 2018, at the training facility on S. Machias Rd. in Snohomish. (Andy Bronson / Herald file)
Lawsuit: Everett firefighter sexually harassed numerous recruits

Chau Nguyen resigned earlier this year, long after the first complaint about his behavior at the county’s fire training academy.

Pilchuck Secret Valley Tree Farm owner Paul Dierck walks through a row of trees on Monday, Dec. 5, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Christmas trees, a Washington cash crop, get a little more spendy

Christmas tree farms generate about $688,000 each season for Snohomish County farmers. Some are still open for business.

Marysville
Marysville to pay $1M to another former student for alleged sex abuse

The latest settlement marks the earliest known allegations against Kurt Hollstein, who worked in the district until last year.

Mike Rosen
Businessman Mike Rosen announces campaign for mayor of Edmonds

Rosen, a city planning board member, is backed by five former Edmonds mayors. It’s unclear if incumbent Mike Nelson will run again.

The Everett Police Department was investigating a woman's death Sunday morning after a driver hit and killed her on Broadway in north Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Woman killed by suspected impaired driver in Everett

A driver reportedly hit the person, which prompted the closure of Broadway between 17th and 19th streets Sunday morning.

Ty Juvinel stands beside the towering welcome figure that he created for the Edmonds Waterfront Center on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022, in Edmonds, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘Our heritage is a gift’: 500-year-old log is carved into Tulalip welcome

The wooden figure represents matriarchs who “can see the potential you have that you don’t know yet,” explained artist Ty Juvinel.

Most Read