FORKS — Members of several Clallam County tribes drummed and sang at a peaceful protest in Forks attended by upward of 200 people Sunday.
The protest was the latest in a series of peaceful protests on the North Olympic Peninsula, including the largest gathering, an estimated 600 people, at the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles on Saturday.Drums from Quillayute, Quinault, Hoh River, Makah and Lower Elwha Klallam tribes could be heard for blocks around the Forks Transit Center as protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter,” “George Floyd” and “Breonna Taylor.”
“This is a way better turnout than I was expecting,” said Phillip Sifuentes, one of the organizers.
Lauren Decker, Sasha Folkner and Mariana Gomez also helped to organize the demonstration.
“The theme here that we wanted was to move forward and to grow,” Folkner said. “Most of these signs have been very much what we believe.”
The demonstration was among those across the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., on May 25. Derek Chauvin, who has since been fired from the police department and charged with Floyd’s death, held his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds while the 46-year-old man, handcuffed and lying face down on the street, pleaded for his life.
On Sunday, some Forks protesters lay on the ground for eight minutes, 46 seconds, shouting “I can’t breathe” as people drove by.
Sifuentes said the message he hopes people get from the demonstration is that the only way to end police brutality is to work with police, not against them.
Organizers said they were thankful that Forks Police Chief Mike Rowley attended the protest.
They also said they are supportive of the Forks Police Department.
Rowley helped diffuse tensions as one man, who opposed the Black Lives Matter movement, confronted the protesters. Some protestors chanted “Black Lives Matter” at the man as he drove away.
“We want to bring our message out without condemning all police,” Sifuentes said.Protests were conducted all across the Peninsula on Friday and Saturday.
Port Angeles Police Chief Brian Smith joined protesters on Friday at the corner of Golf Course Road and Front Street, where people had gathered with signs for several days.
At the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles on Saturday, protesters stretched out prone on Fourth Street in memory of Floyd.
In Port Townsend, Jefferson Healthcare hospital staff took a knee on Friday for eight minutes, 46 seconds in memory of Floyd.
At least 100 staff members participated in the White Coats for Black Lives demonstration organized by Drs. Molly Hung and Molly Parker, said Amy Yaley, Jefferson Healthcare spokesperson.
They stood 6 feet apart, and the line stretched at least 50 feet on both sides of the street, Yaley said.
Also on Friday, 100 to 150 Port Townsend High School students took to the streets to march in protest of deaths of Black people at the hands of police officers.
In Sequim on Friday, residents gathered in a peaceful protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement for the third time in three days.
More than 130 people gathered in front of the Sequim Civic Center for a vigil to mourn Black people who have died from police violence and to encourage tolerance.
Many laid on the ground for eight minutes, 46 seconds. Dozens of victims’ names were read aloud, and photos of victims and flowers were displayed.
Peninsula Daily News photojournalist Keith Thorpe, Sequim Gazette reporter Matthew Nash, Peninsula Daily News reporter Ken Park, and Leah Leach, PDN executive editor, contributed to this story.