NIOKC marches for inclusive community

The newly formed organization held their second annual peace march last Monday, in attempts to continue building safe communities and fight against hate speech


Students and community members gathered together last Monday, Nov. 13 for the protest. They finished the protest by rallying around the Wildcat, located outside the SURC. Xander Fu / The Observer

Miles King, Staff Reporter

“Build bridges, not walls” and “love conquers hate, don’t discriminate” could be heard shouted in the streets of downtown Ellensburg Monday afternoon during the second annual Not in Our Kitt Co. (NIOKC) peace march.

A mix of roughly 150 CWU students and Ellensburg community members marched from the SURC into downtown before passing City Hall and returning to campus. Passing vehicles honked horns in support of the demonstrators being escorted by Ellensburg and CWU police officers.

“I thought it was phenomenal,” said Myrinda Wolitarsky, vice president of equity and community affairs also in the ASCWU, referring to the march on Monday evening. Wolitarsky was not able to attend the first march, but took part in the chanting with other demonstrators this year and enjoyed it.

This was not a violent or a political protest, but a chance to bring people together from campus and the community, different races, ages and backgrounds to support peace, said Lola Gallagher, from the CWU publicity center and a NIOKC committee member.

“There are some who think NIOKC is political,” Gallagher said. She made it clear that the group has worked to avoid political affiliation and stay true to their message of peace and inclusiveness. The group also works to understand why people are drawn to the mindset of hate and discrimination, added Gallagher.

“We’re all about peace,” said one of the many police officers helping with the event, emphasizing the peacefulness of the demonstration as well as the message of the movement.

The previous year yielded a larger turnout in response to Klu Klux Klan activity in the community in the late summer. However, ASCWU president Giovanni Severino believes the march Monday evening was just as effective. Severino spoke outside the SURC at the conclusion of the demonstration.

His message at the conclusion of the march was focused on standing up and supporting one another despite our differences. Severino brings the same attitude to the ASCWU, expressing the office doors should and always will be open to students.

“The task I’m going to give ya’ll before I let ya’ll go is: this is beautiful. But what’s more beautiful is an action,” Severino said. “So if you hear hate speech, if you see someone being oppressed, if you see someone being bullied, stand up for them if they can’t stand for themselves and help them out. Because it starts with you.”


Suspected hate crime recorded Sunday

by Staff Report

A 19-year-old individual who was walking home last Sunday, Nov. 12 at around 6:30 p.m. was assaulted, both physically and verbally, by a white-male dressed in dark clothing at around the 700 block on 18th avenue, according to the Ellensburg Police Department’s Facebook page.

The victim stated that the subject approached him and began to make remarks based on assumptions of the victim being muslim before punching him several times, according to the post.

“This type of crime is rare in our community, with it being the second such reported incident in the past six years. Our detectives are treating this reported incident as a very serious crime that will be thoroughly investigated,” the Ellensburg Police Department said in the Facebook post last Monday, Nov. 13.