SPOKANE, Wash. – Thousands of people gathered in downtown Spokane on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. march and rally.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers spoke at the annual rally in honor of Dr. King, and addressed the hate-speech graffiti messages that were spray-painted around Spokane a few months ago, including at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Center.
However, during McMorris Rodgers' speech, some crowd members began to boo. Attendees also began chanting “liar” and “save our healthcare," while the Eastern Washington congresswoman struggled to stay on message.
The interruption was something the head of Spokane's NAACP chapter, Phil Tyler, said he was not thrilled to see.
"I think the timing, in my opinion, wasn't appropriate. It was a day set aside to celebrate the legacy of Dr. King, which talked about kindness and love," Tyler said.
After her speech and the protests, Tyler and the Congresswoman then sat down for a for a 90-minute roundtable, specifically to discuss racism and poverty, but he believes McMorris Rodgers still heard the other message loud and clear.
"I think she listened, with an empathetic ear. We exchanged stories and we talked about differences and our experiences and I think she really heard that," Tyler said. "I know her staff were taking copious notes."
Tyler said he does understand where those demonstrators are coming from. He just believes this weekend was not the time or the place.
"Protest is as American as apple pie. I thought we could set aside our partisan differences for one day. We have 364 other days for those issues," Tyler said.
The Congresswoman did thank the NAACP for holding Monday's listening session. McMorris Rodgers said, "although we all came from different backgrounds, cultures and races, we are all united in our goal to make our community stronger, safer, and more prosperous for everyone."
Several local celebrities spoke at the rally including Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers. McMorris Rodgers spoke about Dr. King's legacy and uniting as a community and nation.
McMorris Rodgers, who has been a representative of Eastern Washington since 2005, has expressed her support of repealing the Affordable Care Act.
Editor's note: This story originally said the rally was held in response to the racist graffiti found around Spokane earlier this year, which was incorrect. Rep. McMorris Rodgers spoken on the topic, but the rally was an annual event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.