Tensions Smolder During Back The Blue Rally in Kennewick
The racial relations/BLM protest on Columbia Center Boulevard a couple of weeks ago was a civil, calm, rational event allowed by the city with a permit. Some reported during the event people with differing views had discussions and it was peaceful.
The counter protest Saturday (June 20) at the Back The Blue scaled down event was a lot more tense, and far less calm.
The citizen organizers of the original Back The Blue Police rally cancelled due to ""credible threats" via social media. Kennewick Police confirmed many of the posts threatening disruption were "alarming." The rally was in no way sanctioned or involving the city or police. The cancellation meant several legislators and public figures scheduled to speak were not there. Police were not aware of any direct threats of violence against the event or it's participants. However organizers chose to cancel anyway to avoid potential confrontations.
However about 100-120 people still showed up to show their support for law enforcement. Several of them spoke with us about what happened.
Starting around noon Saturday, they waved signs, flags and banners in support of Kennewick Police. Soon afterward about 60-70 counter protesters mostly dressed in black showed up and began to counter chant. Some of their slogans included "I can't breathe" in reference to George Floyd. Many of them also carried ACAB signs, which stands for "All Cops Are Bastards." These signs have also been seen carried at protests where Antifa has shown a presence in other parts of the country.
The atmosphere was tense, according to the attendees we spoke with. There were no direct physical or other threatening violent incidents, but some significant shouting matches between a handful of people on each side.
According to our sources, the Back The Blue crowd was a mix of slightly older persons, men and women, from 20's to even a few senior citizens. The protesters were mostly dressed in black and also had a number of BLM signs. They also appeared to be noticeably younger, in their 20's, and far more women than men.
Sources say they appeared to be led by two men, one of whom had a bullhorn. Back the Blue Organizers believe the leaders of the counter protest were from out of town, but could not confirm that entirely.
Around 2PM as the rain began to increase, the BLM numbers thinned down and the Back The Blue Supporters also left.