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Three marches in four days: Indigenous, Women’s and MLK marches will advocate for unity, human rights this weekend

January 17, 2019

Groups advocating for unity, inclusion and human rights will gather in Spokane in the coming days: the Indigenous Peoples Day march on Friday, the third Woman’s March on Saturday and events honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy scheduled throughout the weekend.

Barbara Gongyin, an organizer for the Indigenous Peoples Day march, said the event is designed to raise awareness about native issues such as missing and murdered indigenous women, climate change, water, loss of indigenous languages and police brutality.

She said the Spokane march was one of several planned across the country. The date also coincides with the anniversary of the Spokane Tribe’s recognition by the federal government on Jan. 18, 1881.

Gongyin, a Spokane Tribe member, said the event will honor people from indigenous communities around the world, and people of all backgrounds are invited to attend. She said the march was meant to be positive, inclusive and nonpartisan.

“Indigenous issues affect everybody,” she said.

The march will begin 11 a.m. Friday at the Spokane Tribe Gathering place at 347 N. Post St. with speeches by local public figures, including City Councilwoman Karen Stratton. The march ends at the orange bridge in Riverfront Park.

The second march of the weekend, the Women’s March and its related events, will begin 10 a.m. Saturday with a volunteer action fair at the Spokane Convention Center, at 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. Susan Brudnicki, a Women’s March organizer, said local organizations participating included Planned Parenthood, the NAACP, Catholic Charities, Habitat for Humanity and the Girl Scouts.

Last year, about 6,000 people participated in the Women’s March in Spokane.

She said the march was funded and organized by local volunteers and was not affiliated with the national Women’s March organization, which has been roiled in recent months by accusations of antisemitism. Brudnicki said the group split from the national organization prior to those allegations.

She said the march would focus on issues that affect all women and this year would emphasize action on the federal level to protect women’s rights and move the country forward.

“Each of us has had an awaking that we can’t really rely on the government to do the right thing,” she said. “We need to speak up.”

She said a rally would begin at noon featuring speakers from women’s advocacy groups and musical guests. At 1 p.m. the march will begin winding through downtown Spokane. Brudnicki said donations not used for the march’s setup and permitting fees would be donated to Transitions, Refugee Connections and NAOMI Community, an organization that assists homeless mothers.

Events honoring Martin Luther King Jr. will take place throughout the three-day weekend. Freda Gandy, executive director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Outreach Center, said there would be a day of service on Saturday at the East Central Community Center from 8 a.m. to noon. She said people could donate canned goods for the food bank and participate in service projects.

On Sunday, from 4 to 6 p.m., there will be a church service highlighting King’s life as a minister and his commitment to his faith. Gandy said there would be a choral service and presentations at the Holy Temple Church of God in Christ.

An annual citywide rally will take place 10 a.m. Monday at the Spokane Convention Center and will include a proclamation from Mayor David Condon. Rev. Percy “Happy” Watkins will deliver King’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The march will begin at about 11 a.m. and later a resource fair will offer volunteer opportunities at local nonprofits, such as the YWCA, SNAP, Spokane NAACP and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

Gandy said about 3,200 people attended the march last year, and she expects around the same number of people to attend this year. She said people should arrive slightly early Monday due to security screenings at the Spokane Convention Center door.

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