Shewa Dedeke of Port Angeles shares quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. during a community celebration honoring him and his work at Lions Park on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Shewa Dedeke of Port Angeles shares quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. during a community celebration honoring him and his work at Lions Park on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

A message of hope: Port Angeles group honors Martin Luther King Jr. with Lions Park event

PORT ANGELES — Devon Gray watched from outside Lions Park on Monday as about 75 people honored Martin Luther King Jr. and organizers spoke of the “injustice” of the city felling a sequoia and courts prohibiting Gray from going to the public park.

Gray, who has been charged with second-degree criminal trespass and obstructing a law enforcement officer for allegedly refusing to leave the park after it was closed and the tree was felled, said that watching through the park’s fence felt “like my rights are being violated.”

She stood outside the park holding a rose and a candle for the tree.

“There’s a link between the environment being enslaved right now and humans and we believe this tree had inalienable rights to life,” Gray said. “I believe that our environment has inalienable rights to life and we need to respect that.”

Several people spoke at the event, called “Infinite Hope,” reading quotes from King and speaking of injustice globally and locally.

Hope also was the name given to a 110-foot sequoia tree that stood in Lions Park until the city cut it down Jan. 3.

Save Our Sequioa, which hosted the event, includes park neighbors and other citizens who fought to save the tree.

“The park itself was the place of the injustice that was done to our community, both environmentally and to Devon Gray who was arrested … for protesting the tree’s removal,” said Tyson Minck, one of the organizers. “She’s a long-time peace activist in the community.”

Minck, who was handing out sequoia saplings and small cuts of the felled sequoia during the event, was collecting signatures on a petition he plans to present to the Port Angeles City Council.

He said the petition, for “justice for Devon Gray,” already had 50 signatures Monday.

Among the speakers was Port Angeles resident Shewa Dedeke, who quoted King as saying “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dedeke did not speak about the tree, but said she was there to honor “one of the most iconic leaders of the civil rights movement.”

She said there is a need for people to continue raising their voices, and fighting against oppression and marginalization.

“We have to look at oppression through a lens of gender, race, class and environmental issues,” she said. “It’s so important when we think about our privileges and our issues to look through multiple lenses.”

She said King taught her “so much” and said she is grateful for the way he fought for people who look like her.

“Dr. King taught me not only to fight for people who look like me, but for all others who have been ‘othered’ and marginalized by society,” Dedeke, who is black, said.

Shawne Johnson, a teacher at Port Angeles High School, discussed the importance of giving students an opportunity to discuss difficult topics.

She said King spoke for years that barriers to realizing democracy come from a lack of intellectual discipline, something she strives to encourage at the high school.

“As a teacher … I’m pretty serious about the importance of cultivating intellectual discipline in students, but also in giving kids the opportunity to exercise that intellectual discipline,” she said. “We’re not really giving kids a lot of opportunities to engage the real world and engage real issues while they are still in school.”

She said she wanted to honor a group of students at the school that have been creating unease at the high school because they are expecting real dialogue about issues, a discussion that started as the group began to address bullying.

“A lot of the bullying we’re seeing is really an intolerance for different groups of people,” Johnson said. “It’s judgments against people you don’t know yet.”

That group recently hosted the Martin Luther King Jr. assembly at the high school, she said.

“They had the gumption to pause at the possibility that the civil rights movement is not over,” Johnson said.

________

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

Port Angeles Mayor Sissi Bruch, left, hugs tree activist Devon Gray outside Lions Park following a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the park Monday. Gray, who was arrested following the felling of a 110-foot sequoia tree at Lions Park, was unable to attend the ceremony due to a court order. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Mayor Sissi Bruch, left, hugs tree activist Devon Gray outside Lions Park following a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at the park Monday. Gray, who was arrested following the felling of a 110-foot sequoia tree at Lions Park, was unable to attend the ceremony due to a court order. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Ron Richards, left, and Mike Doherty, center, talk to Tyson Minck who was handing out sequoia saplings at the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Lions Park on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Ron Richards, left, and Mike Doherty, center, talk to Tyson Minck who was handing out sequoia saplings at the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration at Lions Park on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

About 75 people attended a Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration at Lions Park in Port Angeles on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

About 75 people attended a Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration at Lions Park in Port Angeles on Monday. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

More in News

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they offload equipment from the ferry MV Coho after its return to Port Angeles from annual dry dock maintenance in Anacortes on Wednesday. The ferry is scheduled to resume regular service between Port Angeles and Victoria today. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Preparing for service

Able seamen Doug Reader, front, and Brandon Melville drive forklifts as they… Continue reading

Dr. Suzanne Ames.
Peninsula College adapting to next generation of students

Aim is to engage, meet workforce needs

Officials: Combine Simdars, Johnson Creek road projects

Clallam County, Sequim, tribe urge coordination

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound Express, is the first vessel to take advantage of the early reopening of the Point Hudson Marina on Wednesday after four months of closure to rebuild its north jetty. The marina will close again after the Wooden Boat Festival ends Sept. 10, when rebuilding the south jetty will start with a scheduled re-opening in March 2024. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Point Hudson marina reopens

The Swiftsure, a whale-watching tour boat operated by Port Townsend-based Puget Sound… Continue reading

Amy Miller has been appointed to a seat on the Port Angeles City Council to fill a seat vacated by Mike French, who resigned to become a Clallam County commissioner. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Amy Miller tapped for Port Angeles City Council

Appointee fills seat vacated by Mike French

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards, will be back in service Thursday. Yearly maintenance began Jan. 3. The maintenance is taking a few days longer due to COVID-19 the past two years, Black Ball Ferry Line officials have said. The ship returns to twice-daily round trips across the Strait of Juan de Fuca between Victoria and Port Angeles at 8:20 a.m. Thursday. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Coho maintenance

The MV Coho, pictured in dry dock at the Anacortes Ship Yards,… Continue reading

East Jefferson Fire Rescue town halls focus on lid lift

Ballot measure to go before voters on Feb. 14

Planning work priorities to be discussed

Jefferson County’s Board of County Commissioners and its Planning… Continue reading

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim Lawson devote their Sunday to trimming and pruning the Blue Heron orchard at Blue Heron Middle School in Port Townsend, to promote growth and health of the fruit trees, some of which were planted in 2010. The fruit goes to the school and is available to students. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Pruning fruit trees

Trimming an Italian plum, gleaners Scott Swantner, left, Seth Rolland and Tim… Continue reading

Most Read