Groups oppose Senate candidate's planned rally, citing safety concerns

Groups oppose Senate candidate's planned rally, citing safety concerns

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - A planned rally for Joey Gibson, a Republican currently looking to unseat Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), is garnering controversy from several community groups that don't want his rally held on public property like CenterPlace, which is owned by the City of Spokane Valley.  

Those groups, like Spokane Democratic Socialists of America and FUSE Washington, cite the fact that prior rallies held by Gibson have attracted white nationalists and ended in violence. 

At a rally of his at the University of Washington back in February, five people wound up in handcuffs and police used pepper spray to control gathered crowds. 

Among the concerns listed in this letter, was safety of the public and the fact that the rally was being held in a building next door to a YMCA. Those opposed say they don't want the threat of violence or the potential for exclusive hateful messaging to be so close to children and their families. 

"There are families, there are children, and other community groups trying to use the center, and to have a controversial flash point is the last thing we need on a Sunday afternoon," said FUSE Washington volunteer leader, Mariah McKay.   

Gibson has publicly denounced white supremacists and said he doesn't want to be affiliated with them and doesn't want them at his rallies. 

The sponsor of his Spokane Valley rally, which is scheduled from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., says they have hired security to keep the peace and have canceled a march that was scheduled for after. 

The City of Spokane Valley issued this response to the group's letter, concerned they are renting a facility to a group that will include white nationalists and result in violence. 

The City of Spokane Valley rents space at CenterPlace Regional Event Center to individuals and groups from the community who are looking for quality meeting space.  The City does this in a non-discriminatory fashion for anyone requesting space and who agrees to the City’s terms of use.  The City cannot be in a position of prospectively trying to guess whether certain renters of the facility will break the rules or create a disturbance.  If the City gains information that suggests that may be the case, we will react accordingly and attempt to put appropriate plans in place to try to ensure that the use of the City facility is lawful and peaceful.  The City of Spokane Valley and its elected leadership are strong proponents of the First Amendment and the right of citizens to express themselves in lawful ways.

The City has received calls from members of the community expressing concern about the City’s rental of CenterPlace to the Northwest Grassroots Alliance for this event.  Staff and the Spokane Valley Police Department are working to identify and hopefully resolve any issues that may come up.  Spokane Valley urges the meeting participants and other members of the public who may show up to exhibit decorum and tolerance in all discussions that revolve around this event.


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