Protesting for change


Casey Rothgeb

Protesters against police brutality hold up Black Lives Matter signs they made.

Amy Morris, Managing/Online Editor

Several hundred protesters against police brutality marched from Nicholson Pavilion to the courthouse in downtown Ellensburg on Sept. 17. Students, faculty and community members rallied while chanting “no justice, no peace.” 

Hunter Eckstrom, a junior sports business major and football player, said he wanted to join the protest to show support. 

“There is a big problem in the United States right now… I want to stand up for a cause of change. It’s not political. It’s nothing like that for me. I’m just out here to support my brothers and … a cause I believe,” Eckstrom said.

Casey Rothgeb

Xavier Smith, a senior business major and basketball player, said he joined the protest to show unity.

“We know that everybody here is supporting the cause and just [here] to support what’s going on now with injustice that’s going on in our country,” Smith said. “So I think it’s important to see our allies with this.”  

Smith said he has seen some instances of racism in Ellensburg and thinks it’s important to focus on moving forward as a community. Smith said while there is not always a big example of racism that people can recall they have experienced, sometimes it’s the little actions that add up.

“Just little things like cops following you for no reason, and you don’t really know what’s going on or what you did wrong, but those are just little things that you can’t get over maybe because of your skin color,” Smith said.

Educating the younger generation on racism and how to make a positive change is also something Smith thinks needs improvement.

“We have to keep educating the youth and telling the truth about what is really going on and just fighting for justice and not stopping until what’s right,” Smith said. “You can’t settle for anything less than what’s right.”

AJ Cooper, an assistant coach for the CWU football team, also came out to the protest to show his support. Cooper said he came to the protest because it was a promise he made to the athletes and the department.

“You put a box around yourself when you don’t talk about diversity or equity,” Cooper said.

Having those important conversations gives young people a leadership platform, Cooper said. He said since athletes are prominent figures, they have a chance to make a positive change.  

“We have to allow them to come out here and make a difference and this generation will make the difference in the world, you know,” Cooper said. “Our department is just a small metaphor of the world. You know we have different walks of life and all types of different diversity when you come in to join the team.”

Cooper believes his role as a coach goes beyond just teaching them how to be good athletes, but also good people out in society. He wants athletes to learn about having empathy for other people and taking other people’s feelings and lifestyles into consideration.

“So in order to make our department stronger that’s why we want to come out here and although there are different views and people have different things that [they] disagree on, unity and equality are two things that we can’t disagree on and those are the things that bring us together,” Smith said.