Two community rallies are scheduled this week about The Evergreen State College in Olympia, where angry protests and controversy over race have garnered national attention.
One of the rallies is in support of the liberal arts college, and the other is against it.
“Olympia Stands with Evergreen” is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the kissing statute on Percival Landing, near the intersection of Fourth Avenue West and Water Street Northwest in downtown Olympia.
The event’s goal is to “send the message to the people at Evergreen that the greater Olympia community loves and supports them and that we abhor the disgusting threats they are receiving,” states the event’s Facebook invitation. The rally also is meant to show lawmakers who believe the college should be stripped of its funding that Evergreen is supported by its hometown, the invitation states.
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The rally is being organized by 2011 Evergreen graduate Mark Alford. He said the college needs community support after white supremacists posters and graffiti were widely posted on campus and death threats were made that shut down the school.
“One faculty member was quoted in The Olympian as saying ‘Our colleagues of color are now getting death threats on a regular basis,’” Alford said. “Reading those words in particular inspired me to organize this event. Regardless of one’s opinion on the various complex factors that led to the current situation, I hope our community can come together to say ‘Nobody deserves to be treated like this,’ and participate in this peaceful rally showing support for the victims of these racist threats.”
Meanwhile, another march — which was initially called “March Against Evergreen State College” but was renamed “Free Speech Evergreen State College” on Monday — is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the college campus, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia.
The event is hosted by a group known as Patriot Prayer, which recently organized a pro-Trump free speech rally in Portland.
“Several students have reached out to Patriot Prayer,” states a Facebook invitation for the rally. “They are upset that professors and students have been spreading lies and threats to try to control the behavior of students at the school.”
In a video posted with the event invitation, organizer Joey Gibson said he’ll give a speech at the rally, and that the group plans to keep its demonstration peaceful.
“Evergreen State College: you guys need to wake up,” he said. “...You don’t understand what the real world is like. And you need to understand how lucky you are. You are at a university, getting an education. You don’t have to be running around complaining and screaming and acting like victims.”
In the video, Gibson refers to Evergreen faculty member Bret Weinstein as a hero. Weinstein is at the heart of the controversy for questioning the campus’ race-based event known as Day of Absence.
Although racial tensions have been brewing on campus for months, Weinstein’s criticism of the event upset some students who later confronted him. Hundreds of students held a protest the next day, calling for administrators to fire Weinstein and other Evergreen employees they allege have shown racial bias.