More than 100 people filed into the Yakima City Council chambers Tuesday, calling for an end to the city’s appeal of a voting rights case that changed Yakima’s elections system to give Latinos a greater voice. But none of the four council members who supported both the appeal and a request to stay this year’s elections offered a motion to reconsider the issue. The protest was in response to the council’s surprise vote June 2 to seek an emergency stay more than a month and a half after the city said it would allow elections to proceed, despite appealing the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court.
Tensions rose at times during the meeting, from disagreements over the time speakers were allowed to audience members erupting with applause. Mayor Micah Cawley threatened to cut off audience participation if attendees didn’t maintain decorum, but more than 30 people spoke over more than an hour of public comment.
Black residents, such as longtime community activists Ester Huey and the Rev. Robert Trimble — as well as local NAACP president Willie Pride and Yakima Police Athletic League Executive Director Donald Davis — told the council their appeal harkened back to the days of the segregated South and Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s infamous “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.”