Broken windows from splinter protest (Townsquare media)
Broken windows from splinter protest (Townsquare media)

Many in the Tri-Cities are have noticed an abrupt scale back of activity when it comes to what are referred to as 'social justice' (SJ) activity in the region; especially the last month.

After the death of George Floyd, there were a number of marches in our area, at the end of May, early June and July, then some other activities in August and September.

Groups such as Blackformation and Unbound Tri-Cities (Facebook) were prominent in creating and staging these rallies. They included the June 6 event in front of Winco Foods on Clearwater, where some protesters laid down in the turn lanes blocking traffic, and hitting some vehicles with protest signs.

Some were peaceful and calm, others more agitated.

There was also the June 21 Back The Blue event in front of the Kennewick Police Department. Due to a "credible threat" the organizers cancelled it, but about 120 people showed up anyway to back police. They were countered by about 60 members of Unbound and other groups.

However, as the number of Culp, Trump and other conservative rallies began to rapidly increase, we also saw a marked decrease in the social justice events. But there was still a "Blue Lives Murder" protest that had been scheduled for Sept. 3 by some of these groups, and a few other small events.

Then came the event that law enforcement says led to the noticeable drop in activity. Sept. 26 during a Trump rally on Columbia Center Boulevard, a rallygoer was head butted in the nose by a man who jumped from a vehicle in traffic. The incident made headlines all over Eastern WA.

There was one more Unbound event Oct. 5, an anti police rally in front of Griggs Department store in Pasco. But then the activity went away.

Police began an investigation, and on Oct. 20 announced the assault suspect, and getaway driver. The driver was ID'd as 24-year-old Brandon Jones, who is considered to be the leader of Unbound, and heavily influential in several other SJ groups. He's facing 2nd Degree Rendering Criminal Assistance charges.

KPD has been looking for Jones as well as the man who did the actual assault.  Detectives told us this week they have not been able to find him as of this writing.

It's believed he is still in our area, but laying low. KPD sources say due to all the extensive publicity and attention about a social justice leader being sought on criminal charges, it's caused virtually all the SJ activity to screech to a halt. It's also had a ripple effect on the other group members and activists.

Regardless of your stance on these issues, the Sept. 26 incident and charges have resulted in a noticeable negative turn in public opinion towards these SJ events. Public reaction to the incident has been vocal especially on social media.

For the time being police will continue to seek the two suspects, and things remain quiet on this scene in the Tri-Cities.



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