SPOKANE, Wash. — About a dozen protesters filled the hallway outside of a Spokane County Superior Courtroom Tuesday, in what they called a demonstration against hate and racism. Protesters were there for the arraignment of two men accused of a hate crime in North Spokane.
Both Jason Cooper and Donald Prichard were arrested earlier in October, after police said they harassed a 66-year-old black man, yelled racial slurs, punched him in the face, left and came back about 20 minutes later and shot at his home.
Cooper is a 14-time convicted felon and Prichard is 16-time convicted felon. Both appeared before a judge Tuesday morning for their arraignments and each pleaded not guilty.
After their court appearance, several people gathered in the hallway of the courthouse to protest hate and racism in our community. Spokane's NAACP President Kurtis Robinson was part of the protest and said we all need to stand against hate, but also stand for the hope of the Spokane Community.
"Spokane needs to be and desires to be an inclusive community, where this kind of behavior is not welcome,” said Spokane’s NAACP President Kurtis Robinson.
Robinson said this case is unfortunately one of many we have seen lately in the Inland Northwest.
"Any hate crime, anything motivated from that kind of place is one too many,” Robinson explained. “But, the reality is we've seen a drastic increase and there are several theories of why that is. I think anybody that takes a look, can kind of figure out why it's happening."
Not only does Robinson want the two men prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, he also thinks it is important to have a conversation about why they did this to learn from it and prevent it from happening to someone else in the future. We as a community cannot allow hate to win. Robinson said it is time for all of us to take action and come together to move forward.
"It's us, it's right here, it's our homes, it's our neighbors, it's our friends, it's our family, and the only way we're going to make a difference is by really coming out of our silos, coming out of our comfort zones, and understanding and taking a look at the person next to us,” Robinson said.