“We want people to know it’s like Independence Day,” Wilson said.
After consulting with police, who closed the southbound lanes of the freeway and assisted with keeping people safe, the demonstrators began marching around 4:50 p.m., entering by the onramp at Fifth and Washington streets. The crowd stretched for several blocks. They chanted and waved signs as they walked. Many wore masks to reduce the risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.
At midspan, the group knelt, then continued walking to the south end of the bridge. By about 5:50 p.m. they were on the march back to Vancouver.
Webcams showed Friday afternoon freeway traffic was unusually light after word spread of the protest. Traffic was detoured via Highway 14 to Interstate 205.
Below the bridge, a few boaters turned out in support of the marchers.
Ozzie George, one of the founders of M.A.D. PDX, said, “We’re here to help Black lives and support anything that supports us.” He said they organized a march in Vancouver because, “In Portland you hear a lot of great things going on. I just want to do something different.”
“If you’re over there, you’re preaching to the choir. I’m trying to spread the light over here. We have got to show people love is everywhere,” George said.
Although not at the scale of protests seen in cities like Portland and Seattle, there have been protests in support of Black lives almost daily in Clark County for the last two weeks, including in smaller towns such as Camas and Ridgefield. As in the rest of the country, many in the community have been shocked at the death of Floyd, a Black man who died after a Minneapolis police office knelt on his neck for more than seven minutes.
A group of perhaps a dozen counter-demonstrators, including Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson, stood on the shoulder of the freeway in the vicinity of Columbia Way and heckled the marchers, then followed them across the bridge on the public sidewalk.
The event concluded and the freeway reopened by 6:30 p.m.