More than 200 people gathered at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center Friday morning to bring awareness to the death of Yvonne McDonald, a black Olympia woman.
The death of McDonald in August of 2018 caused many, including McDonald’s niece Talauna Reed who is currently representing herself in a lawsuit against Thurston County, to question the Olympia Police Department’s investigation into the incident.
As protestors circled around the front door, they shouted several chants including, “Say her name, Yvonne McDonald” and “No justice, no peace, no racist a** police.”
As Reed exited the Law and Justice Center, she took the microphone to speak to the crowd.
“I really think the Chehalis Law and Justice need to see this this morning,” Reed said to those gathered around her. “We walked in, there was an attorney and she said ‘I’m all for protesting, but not on a Friday.’”
Reeds’ words were met with approval from the crowd and one man shouted “maybe we need to come back Saturday and Sunday!”
On Aug. 17, 2018, an Olympia street sweeper was reportedly driving up Division Street Northwest when he saw McDonald in the front lawn of a residence, called 911, but did not approach her and continued on his route, according to a report from The Olympian.
McDonald died at a hospital later that evening. Reed says the Thurston County Coroner’s office categorized McDonald’s death as “undetermined,” which Reed contests.
Reed believes her aunt was murdered and that Thurston County did not do enough to get to the bottom of her aunt’s case.
Reed says that on her own volition, she has poured over the available documents and found discrepancies in the stories from three individuals who allegedly found McDonald on the day of her death.
She characterized the Olympia Police report on her aunt’s case as “garbage.”
Though McDonald’s death occurred in Thurston County, Reed filed a Public Records Act lawsuit against Thurston County, which resulted in her getting the choice of the court venue in one of Thurston County’s neighboring counties. Reed chose Lewis County.
According to court documents, Reed alleges that “individuals, on behalf of Thurston County have repeatedly denied the Plaintiff’s request (for public records) and should not have.”
On Friday, a motion made by the defendant, Thurston County, to dismiss the case was continued, or rescheduled, to July 11.
“From day one, I have been there with my mother and they were promising me the records, but as soon as they found out what I was doing, they stopped giving me the record,” Reed said.
Also in attendance at the protest expressing outrage over McDonald’s death was Joanie Linder, who organized a Black Lives matter demonstration at the Lewis County Courthouse last Monday.
Linder said to see people raise their voices over a local issue like McDonald’s death, just as they did when they kneeled in honor of George Floyd, a Minneapolis resident, is a sign that Lewis County residents who are protesting mean business.
“This is just so awesome,” Linder said.
Faith Hagenhofer, of Tenino, was in attendance at the protest on Friday and said she remembered when the initial reports of McDonald’s death started to come out and questions started to circulate about how she died.
Hagenhofer said she came because she wanted to help raise her community’s voice in its frustration over McDonald’s death.