Downtown businesses, police and protesters prepare for Sunday’s demonstration
SPOKANE, Wash. — Some downtown businesses are still boarded up, anticipating what is to come this weekend. Another protest is set to take place on Sunday with more than a thousand people on Facebook already saying they are interested in going.
That is what everyone wants to see this weekend. A peaceful protest while demanding change.
“I hope that Sunday remains peaceful. On a larger scale, I would like for police violence to be acknowledged as a major systemic issue both here in the Inland Northwest, and also the country at large,” explained Jenna Buck, a protester.
It is easy for things to go from good to bad.
“All it takes is just one bad egg to create a problem,” said Mark Richard, the CEO and president of the Downtown Spokane Partnership.
That problem happened Sunday, creating a ripple effect. Now, businesses are boarded up and owners are afraid of what could happen.
“To calm our own worries and sleep at night, we thought it was best to invest in some OSB, put some wood up on the window, and protect our business here downtown,” said David Basaraba, an owner of Mountain Lakes Brewing Company.
The fear of his property possibly being vandalized is now just another thing he has to worry about, along with the pandemic.
“Add this on top of that the chaotic situation, the tumultuous situation, of course, adds a lot of pressure to all business owners,” he said.
Mountain Lakes Brewing Co. was going to completely take down the boards after opening up for the day, but after hearing more about Sunday’s protest, Basaraba said they will be putting them back up when they close.
“That is a minor inconvenience to us. There’s cost, there’s time, but it’s a little thing we can do to protect our investment as business owners,” he added.
Downtown Spokane Partnership has been reaching out to businesses, telling them to prepare for any situation.
“I think we can be very prepared and I think the preparation makes all the difference in the world frankly,” Richard said.
Richard said he is advising business owners to secure their property, possibly even add security staff. DSP is also telling business owners to put away any valuable items within view, and making sure cameras are working and focusing on the right places.
“Those cameras have been invaluable in terms of identifying, separating good healthy protests from rioters and looters this last weekend,” Richard said.
While one group will be standing on one side of the barriers demanding change, everyone can expect another on the other side, making sure things stay calm.
“What matters is you being lawful, or you being unlawful. If you’re going to commit crimes and be unlawful, that’s where we step in,” said Sgt. Terry Preuninger, with Spokane Police.
Preuninger said they will not tolerate any criminal activity.
“We had a lot of felony assaults directed at our police officers and other citizens. We’ve had incredible mischief and thefts and things like that. When things like that happen, we’re going to stop it, because there’s no longer a peaceful protest,” he said.
Both Preuninger and Buck say they are aware of outside groups wanting to come and create problems at the protest.
Police said they are ready for that and have surrounding agencies, on standby, if needed.
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