More Than 300 People Kneel in Chehalis in Second Demonstration Against Police Brutality, Racism


The second Black Lives Matter demonstration in as many days in the Twin Cities took place at the Lewis County Courthouse in Chehalis Monday evening, with the number of supporters growing by the hundreds from the initial demonstration in Centralia.

The gathering was relatively short in duration, lasting less than an hour. Organizer and Chehalis resident Joanie Linder, who said she is not a part of any organization, just a concerned Lewis County resident, wanted to ensure everything remained peaceful and everyone went home safe. And though it was brief, the clarity of the message was evident.

“This shows that in this area, we are paying attention, we’re outraged and we’re ready for change,” Linder said in regard to the sharp increase in demonstrators.

The demonstration was highlighted by the crowd dropping to a knee in unison for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the exact amount of time a Minneapolis Police officer pressed his knee into the neck of George Floyd, 46, while Floyd protested, “I can’t breathe” to the officer before dying, according to reports.

Linder, while speaking to the crowd through a microphone, added that the demonstration was not intended to be anti-police, rather to bring attention to instances of police brutality that disproportionately target Black communities.

During the demonstration, a man in a white truck drove by on two occasions and yelled out the window, “white power.” Some protesters shouted back at him, but were quickly quieted. 

“This is why we’re here,” Linder said to the crowd.

On Sunday, the first Black Lives Matter demonstration for Lewis County took place at George Washington Park in Centralia, attracting about 40 supporters, according to The Chronicle’s reporting.

On Monday, at the Chehalis demonstration that was partly inspired by the initial demonstration in Centralia, the number of supporters grew to upwards of 300 people.

The crowd was not primarily young, nor was it predominantly old — there was an even distribution of generations in attendance. This fact was particularly heartwarming for some.

Carol Brock, the chair of the Lewis County Democrats, said it was “phenomenal” that people of her generation were joining the cause with the younger generations.

Growing up in Maryland during the civil rights movement, Brock said she felt she was too young during the civil rights movement to truly understand its purpose, and she didn’t want this opportunity to pass her by.

“The Vietnam War, Kent State, all of those things happened when I was a young person,” Brock said. “I wasn’t able to understand the importance of what they were doing. As an older person, I realize that and I’m fortunate enough to participate now.” 

Among the younger generation in attendance, a group of three Napavine High School students — Jordan Wilson, Macensee Taliaferro and Diego Ortiz — we’re overwhelmed by the turnout of their peers, but of their parents’ generation as well.

“When we first got here Jordan said she didn’t really think anyone was going to show up, you know, because it’s Lewis County,” Taliaferro said. “But there are actually a lot of people.”

Wilson added: “It was a bigger turnout than I thought it would be.”

Ortiz pitched in: “it’s very, very encouraging,” in reference to the number of people who showed up.

According to Linder, more demonstrations are on the way. The next gathering will happen at noon on Saturday at the Chehalis Timberland Library.