Spokane city councilwoman concerned over police use of force

SPOKANE, Wash. – Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to stop people from looting last night in downtown Spokane. Some peaceful protestors were also caught in the mix.

“I’ve seen protests and violence all of my life,” said Betsy Wilkerson, Spokane’s District 2 City Councilwoman.

What happened in Spokane on Sunday wasn’t a first for some.

“Black folks or folks of color are just exhausted,” said Wilkerson.

Wilkerson fears it won’t be the last.

“I’m disturbed. The weight is honestly almost unbearable,” Wilkerson said.

What started off as a peaceful protest, honoring the life of George Floyd, took a turn for the worse.

“Toward the end, that just went south,” said Wilkerson.

Spokane police said Sunday night, nearly 500 people began protesting in downtown Spokane.

“We’ve never has this many people in downtown refusing to leave for that long, ever,” said Craig Meidl, Spokane Police Chief.

When protestors began throwing rocks and threatening officers, they decided to take action, using tear gas and rubber bullets to stop the chaos from getting worse.

“I think we handled it phenomenally well, I really do,” said Meidl.

Others aren’t so sure.

“For that number of people, I don’t know if we needed that much police force,” said Wilkerson.

“There’s been some challenging police dynamics manifested over here during a period of time and we need to own that,” said Kurtis Robinson, President of the Spokane NAACP.

Robinson said Spokane has already come a long way, but agrees there’s still room to grow.

“I believe we are absolutely headed there, but it’s just the beginning,” Robinson said.