Small BLM Protest at Steptoe and Gage Under Watch of Police
A group that we counted to be at about 40 Black Lives Matter supporters staged a peaceful small rally on the Northwest corner of Gage and Steptoe Monday in Kennewick. It began around 11AM, social media information indicated it was scheduled to end around 1PM. We arrived at 11:30AM and watched for about 45min.
The event was closely monitored by area law enforcement.
A source on scene with Kennewick Police told Newstalk870 the participants behaved themselves, and hadn't caused any known issues or problems. One of the reasons for the heavy police presence was Gage and Steptoe are one of the busiest intersections in town; and unfortunately known for being one of the worst when it comes to serious accidents. IF the protesters had ventured into traffic or begun to cause any issues with drivers, there would have been swift action by law enforcement.
It's also no secret that two major financial institutions are on the southeast and southwest corners of the intersection, Yakima Federal Savings and Loan, and the headquarters for GESA Credit Union.
At least one undercover KPD unit, several Benton County Sheriff cruisers and even a Washington State Patrol car took turns monitoring the event. One person was seen waving a BLM flag, most off the signs read "BLM or Black Lives Matter." There were a handful of "defund the police signs." Several Richland units drove by, probably every five minutes we saw one through the heavy traffic.
All but three of the participants were on the Northwest (Rite Aid) parking lot corner. Several uniformed KPD officers were seen walking up and talking for a few minutes with the BLM supporters, then they left.
Aside from an occasional beep of a horn, the protesters seemed to be largely ignored by the busy streams of traffic moving up and down Gage and Steptoe.
A source from KPD said the situation would be monitored closely until the event was over, or the participants were clearly disbanding.
Police sources at the scene said regardless of whom a group is representing, as long as they are peaceful, non disruptive, and don't cause safety or security issues, people are free to express their opnions; and the police are there as much to provide the opportunity to do that besides protecting the rest of the population.
These law enforcement sources tell us that some of these protest groups have been far easier to work with then others. Some do it by the book, notify in advance, and behave themselves; some have not.