PORT TOWNSEND — At noon Wednesday, about three hours after President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take their oaths of office, Indivisible Port Townsend will host a public rally.
The event will be from noon to 12:30 p.m. at Pope Marine Plaza across from City Hall at Water and Madison streets in downtown Port Townsend, so “bring your Biden-Harris signs,” said organizer Mike Cornforth.
“And if you got ’em, bring your Ossoff and Warnock signs,” he added, referring to Georgia senators-elect Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, who ensured a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate.
“Wear masks and practice social distancing,” Cornforth added.
When he was asked about the possibility of counter-demonstrators coming to the event, Cornforth said the focus of the rally is on the right of peaceful free expression, just as last year’s Black Lives Matter and post-election rallies in Port Townsend.
There were people who disagreed with the demonstrators at those events, he said, and insults may have been issued, but the rallies remained peaceful.
Cornforth didn’t estimate how many people will show up Wednesday. He noted, though, that when Biden’s victory was announced Nov. 7, Indivisible Port Townsend saw a vigorous reponse to its call for celebration.
A rally was staged at the triangle where Sims Way, Kearney Street and Jefferson Street meet.
“To our surprise and pleasure,” he said, “a couple hundred people showed up,” with Biden-Harris signs, American flags and homemade placards with messages such as “Joe and Kamala, help us to heal.”
Indivisible Port Townsend member Debbi Steele said she’s been hearing from people who are hesitant to join an inauguration celebration.
“We have notified the police,” she said. “I feel really confident about our police force. I’m optimistic we have nothing to fear.”
“We have the right to exercise our freedom of speech — as does the other side. But no one has the right to intimidate people.”
Patrol officer Nate Holmes said the Port Townsend Police Department will have extra officers on duty Wednesday, although he didn’t say where they would be deployed. Acting Police Chief Troy Surber wasn’t available for comment Monday.
Steele, along with Human Rights Alliance North Sound, is organizing an online gathering for the Port Townsend Virtual Women’s March. The hourlong event, the fifth January women’s march locally, will start at noon Saturday.
“It’s so important that we do this celebration,” Steele said.
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]