Yesterday, after the anti-police violence protest at Woodruff Park in Olympia, one of the speakers, a black American attorney named Kevin Johnson, pointed to two white skateboarders.
Johnson told me that if the unarmed boys who were shot by a police officer two nights ago had looked liked them, they would not be in the hospital with gunshot wounds. The white skateboarders looked at us with blank expressions. It was obvious we were talking about them, and this made them a bit uncomfortable.
However, other white protesters were very comfortable expressing concern about their privilege and what they perceived as the police department's double standards.
A young white male who identified himself as Philip talked with me about the allegations that the two young black men had been caught shoplifting at a Safeway. "I have been caught for shoplifting there and I got a slap on the wrist and they sent me home to my mom," he told me. "I do not want special treatment. I want to be treated like everybody else."
Shoplifting in this very same part of town? Yes. "I have walked down that street at night and thousands of time when I lived there," Phillip confirmed. "I was never bothered by anybody. It just seems really unfair. It makes me very uncomfortable, because I don't think we should be treated better than other people. And that's exactly what [the police] are doing."
Philip's friend, a young white woman named Rachel Larue, added with anger: "I do not have to fear [the police] because I'm white, and other people should not have to feel fear because they are not white. It's just not fair… Under no circumstances should shoplifting be subject to lethal force, no matter what color you are."
Don't forget: Mike Brown was shot by a cop after an attempted shoplifting of inexpensive items, too.