Last Saturday, islanders joined thousands of others protesting across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, which was captured on video as a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes after arresting him for a non-violent crime.
The Vashon demonstration, which for the most part observed social distancing with masked participants holding signs and standing apart from each other in the four corners intersection of Bank Road and Vashon Hwy., was peaceful, though noisy and occasionally edgy.
Organizer Chris Boscia, with a bullhorn in hand, led recitations of the names of African-Americans killed by police officers, and occasionally exhorted the crowd in profane terms.
In 10-minute intervals, Boscia and other demonstrators also blocked cars crossing the intersection for up to 60 seconds. At one point, Boscia laid down in the middle of the street for a few seconds.
Islanders Tricia Turner and Nicole Donahue attended the demonstration with their child. The trio, standing in front of The Ruby Brink, held signs that said “Black Lives Matter,” “Charge All the Cops,” and listed the names of African-American men and women who have died in police custody.
“We’ve just had enough and we feel like this is the only way we can express ourselves,” Turner said. “All the cops need to be charged. There needs to be pressure, even in a Vashon way.”
According to Boscia, over the course of the two-and-a-half-hour demonstration, a total of 75 islanders took part. Some demonstrated inside their cars, he said, driving around the block several times to honk their horns and lend support to those on the street.
After the demonstration, there were several lengthy threads on Vashon community Facebook pages with some posters supportive of the demonstration, and others critical and dismissive of its more confrontational aspects.
Boscia took the social media storm in stride.
“A few people wrote we were too tame, that we should have done more or gone to Seattle and put our money where our mouth was,” he said.
Next weekend, Boscia will take a more grassroots approach to his activism.
He said that he and other volunteers would be at the Village Green this Saturday, seeking donations and raising awareness for groups such as Northwest Community Bail Fund, which provides cash bail for marginalized people charged with crimes who find themselves incarcerated and unable to afford bail.