OLYMPIA — Some 300 people, including about 75 from Spokane, marched Monday through downtown to the steps of the state Capitol, demanding the Legislature fulfill the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream by doing more to help the poor.
Some made statements with chants like “The people united will never be defeated.”
Others made statements with cards that held a legislator’s name, and a letter grade for how the Washington Community Action Network thinks they voted in the last session on issues of race and economic justice.
Taylor Malone, of Spokane, made a statement by taking off her shirt and standing through the half-hour rally on the steps in a bra and jeans. In recent years, she said, the Legislature has cut social service programs, forcing some people to choose between buying adequate food and adequate clothing for their families.
Instead of more cuts, the Legislature should close some tax breaks for businesses to collect more money, she said.
Malone said she has been active in Spokane protests to support gay rights and to help victims of sexual assault, and participated in a counter-demonstration against the Westboro Baptist Church. But it was her first protest in Olympia, where temperatures were in the mid-30s under fog-shrouded skies. The obvious question was whether she was cold.
“Truthfully? I am,” she admitted. After the rally, she put on a shirt and coat before joining the group visiting 3rd District legislators.
Also coming from Spokane was Wendla Fryar, an Eastern Washington University graduate student working on her master’s in social work, who hoped to talk to legislators from Spokane’s 6th District about preserving or restoring social programs.
Fryar suffers from lupus and needs to take 13 prescription drugs every day to manage her symptoms, but she was dropped from the Medicaid program that helped cover her drug costs. She receives food stamps and a grant to help with college costs and is worried about cuts to those programs, too.
“I can’t survive without those programs,” she said.