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Why protests in Tacoma don’t resemble those in Seattle, Portland

Demonstrators fill an intersection near Seattle Central College during protests on July 26, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Black Lives Matter protests may look a little different in Tacoma than they do in Seattle and Portland, according to Matt Driscoll of the Tacoma News Tribune. He joined KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show to discuss why.

“The protests here in Tacoma have been quite a bit different, and there’s a fairly obvious reason for that,” Driscoll said. “Tacoma’s a much smaller city. If you want to be a part of the high profile protests, you could go to Seattle, you could go to Portland. We don’t have that here. Certainly in the wake of George Floyd’s death, we had multiple days, multiple nights of protests, but it has kind of cooled off, at least in terms of action in the street.”

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Driscoll says much of the activism in Tacoma has been centered on trying to get the attention of city leaders through the use of “speaking in public forums, writing letters, demanding action, social media campaigns, murals, these sorts of things, really trying to get the attention of elected leaders in ways that aren’t necessarily large, continuous street protests.”

Has he seen a difference in the approach from both protesters and city leaders that contrast the approaches in Seattle and Portland?

“At the protests earlier this year, city leaders and the police did a good job communicating and not escalating. I think members of this community were very deliberate and they said we want to let our voices be heard, but we don’t want to be destructive, we don’t want to be violent. And so that all came together and you didn’t see a lot of the things that you’ve seen out of some of these larger protests,” Driscoll said.

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“When you have these large protests, there are all different types of groups and people with different agendas that come together. And so I think the broad brushing of ‘this is a violent protest,’ and ‘this is a peaceful protest,’ doesn’t always illuminate the nuance and the context that’s there,” he added. “Tacoma’s a smaller city, so we haven’t attracted that. Our protests here are largely residents. We don’t get people coming in simply looking to agitate, and we haven’t had police that are clearly looking to escalate.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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