Fireworks, flags and protest comprised the Fourth of July Saturday on the Palouse.
Residents gathered on sidewalks, patios and vehicles and looked to the north sky for a colorful fireworks display Saturday night in Pullman.
It wasn’t the huge community gathering people typically enjoy every Independence Day at Pullman’s Sunnyside Park. Those festivities were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Many people still brought out their folding chairs and blankets to enjoy the show — which was synchronized to music playing on the radio — including on Northwest Terre View Drive.
Joseph Whitney, his wife and two of their four children were one of the families on Terre View Drive that watched pyrotechnics blast off from the top of a hill north of the street.
“I think it was a neat opportunity for the community to still celebrate the Fourth of July from a distance,” Whitney said.
Whitney, who lives with his family in Moscow, said Saturday’s fireworks show was comparable to the Sunnyside Park festivities last year. But the Sunnyside Park show does have advantages, he said.
“We were right underneath them last year, so the magnitude seemed way bigger last year,” Whitney said.
On Saturday afternoon in Moscow, about 100 people peacefully marched, chanted and cheered for Black lives.
The procession started at East City Park and it completed two loops around downtown Moscow before returning to the park.
“Honestly, I think the most patriotic thing to do right now is to give a voice to people who don’t have that voice,” Lars Mumchuck, who helped organize Saturday’s march, said about holding the event on Independence Day. “And America was founded on protests so we are supporting that today by having our own march.”
She said she wanted to keep the conversation going — that Black lives matter and police brutality needs to stop.
“We want to show people in the black community that Moscow cares about them,” Mumchuck said.
The protesters were positively received for the most part as they walked through Moscow.
Drivers supportively honked their horns and pedestrians, including some at the Moscow Farmers Market, cheered or joined the chants as the protesters marched by.
Jason Kennedy, a Black man who helped organize the Black Lives Matter march that drew hundreds of people in Pullman a few weeks ago, used a megaphone Saturday to lead chants like “black lives matter” and “no justice, no peace, no racist police.”
Marchers held signs like “BLM” and “Jesus hates racism.”
Tyler Gallop, 26, of Moscow, held a sign that read “stop police brutality.”
“It’s just something I really care about,” Gallop said on why he joined the march. “I think we need systemic change in America and this seems to be one of the only ways to get people to listen.”
Not everyone liked the protest.
One man appeared to voice his disagreement with the march’s purpose before it started at East City Park.
“I respect you,” Kennedy responded to the man. “We can love each other. That’s cool. But if you’re not willing to stand with me and us on this side of this issue, then your love doesn’t mean a goddamn thing right now.”
Kennedy said people were at the event because Black lives matter.
“We’re not here to say that Black lives are more important … we want to be on the same f------ playing field for the first time in American history,” Kennedy said.
One driver passing by the protesters yelled “all lives” referring to the popular phrase “all lives matter,” another driver used an expletive and another flipped off protesters during the course of the march.
Kennedy and other members of the protest spoke at the East City Park stage after the march.
“I’m not scared of the police,” Kennedy said. “I ain’t scared of racists. I ain’t scared of any right wing organization. I ain’t scared of the government.”
The march ended with protesters taking a knee in silence for just less than nine minutes — the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer in May pressed his knee on George Floyd’s neck, killing him.
“Don’t stop being loud,” Kennedy said. “Make your voice heard because your voice is everybody’s voice now.”
On Saturday morning in Moscow, about 15 people — many carrying large or small American flags — gathered in the Rosauers parking lot on North Main Street.
What was expected to be a patriotic march with flags in hand turned into a brief gathering.
David Tolman, a 19-year-old Moscow resident, said he organized the event to support and pay respect to veterans.
Dale Courtney said he brought his 3-year-old grandson, Ransom Courtney, to the gathering to support the country and its Independence Day celebration. Plus, Dale Courtney said his grandson loves flags, especially American ones.
“I knew that he would really enjoy being here because of all the flags being present,” Dale Courtney said.
Attendees ranged from the 3-year-old boy to a World War II veteran.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.