Spurred by the appearance last weekend of white nationalist flyers in Edmonds yards and driveways, an estimated 50 citizens gathered Monday night to protest hate and divisiveness.
The flyers — contained in plastic bags weighted down by rocks — were apparently tossed from passing cars sometime Saturday night. They bore the website of Patriot Front USA, a white nationalist group.
Monday night’s participants gathered at the intersection of 80th Avenue West and 196th Street Southwest, close to the Maplewood and Seaview neighborhoods, both of which were targeted by the flyer distribution. Ranging in age from senior citizens to schoolchildren, they waved signs at passing motorists, many of whom honked back in enthusiastic support.
Organized in less than 24 hours, word of the protest spread on Facebook and other social media, and attracted a host of elected and other officials wanting to lend their support and to be part of carrying the message that hate has no place in Edmonds.
“It’s important that we all stand up for the neighborhoods in Edmonds,” said Edmonds City Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas. “What has been put on people’s doorsteps is absolutely awful. It was a cowardly move. They didn’t do it daylight, didn’t go door to door, just threw it in driveways.”
Added Edmonds City Councilmember Mike Nelson, who spearheaded the event: “I’m here because we want to send a message that we’re a loving and inclusive community. There’s no place for this in Edmonds. We’re going to stand up to neo-Nazis and anyone else who spreads a message of hate. This is our home, and in our home love wins.”
The sentiments were echoed by two other officials: Snohomish County Council Chair Stephanie Wright, who came out to demonstrate “support and love for our community,” and Snohomish County Human Rights Commission Chair and Edmonds School Board member Carin Chase. “Hate has no home here,” Chase stressed.
Earlier Monday, Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling issued a statement on the City of Edmonds Facebook page calling the messaging in the flyers “totally inappropriate in our community. Edmonds is an inclusive and welcoming community, and messages of intolerance, supremacy, and exclusion are not acceptable in our city,” Earling said.
You can read the mayor’s full statement here.
Even participant Heather Damron said that for her, the issue was personal.
“Many of my friends and acquaintances were targeted, and they’ve told me how intimidated it made them feel,” she said. “Free speech is one thing, but going onto someone’s property to spread an intimidating message is another. And even more sinister is that it wasn’t just here. I’ve talked to others I know from as far away as Texas who tell me their neighborhoods were targeted by the same group, many being hit on the same night as we were. Our message is clear: This is not something we will stand for.”
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel