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'Let Us Fish' Protest One Of Two In Spokane To Question Stay-Home Measures

Demonstrators in Spokane's Franklin Park April 22 said they wanted to fish, saying it's one of the most socially distant and isolating activities possible.
Nick Deshais / NW News Network
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Demonstrators in Spokane's Franklin Park April 22 said they wanted to fish, saying it's one of the most socially distant and isolating activities possible.

Protestors took to the streets and parks in Spokane Wednesday in two events to push back against statewide stay-home measures.

Like most other cities in the country under stay-home orders, the city core has been pretty quiet for weeks. Except for one corner by city hall, which was turned into a de-facto campaign event for Tim Eyman Wednesday afternoon.

That’s what it looked like as the Republican candidate for governor smiled and handed out stickers and signs with his name.

This downtown protest with about 50 people was billed as one against Gov. Jay Inslee’s efforts to stem coronavirus.

“Let Us Fish”

Later in the day, the “Let Us Fish” rally drew a similar-sized crowd in Spokane’s Franklin Park. The mood was less political, as anglers hung signs off their rods as cars drove by.

It piggybacked on a similar event in the Tri-Cities last weekend, with people demonstrating against Washington being the only state with an outright ban on recreational fishing.

Terah Altman says she lives off grid and depends on fishing for much of her food. She supports social distancing and health safety measures but thinks the fishing ban is "unacceptable."
Credit Nick Dehais/NW News Network
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Terah Altman says she lives off grid and depends on fishing for much of her food. She supports social distancing and health safety measures but thinks the fishing ban is "unacceptable."

Terah Altman says she organized the Spokane event because by the end of the year she needs 30% of her freezer to be fish.

“I live off grid, and I can’t fish for my food, Altman said. “It’s unacceptable.”

She believes the virus is real, and says she practices social distancing at her job at a grocery store in Stevens County. But she thinks the fishing ban is “absolutely absurd.”

Mark Brown agrees. He’s 71, but he’s not worried about getting sick.

“There’s a bug in the air. Am I worried about getting it? No. I’m doing my social distancing, like everybody’s supposed to be doing,” Brown said. “I’m not concerned I’m going to get it. I’m healthy, even though I’m in the age bracket that says you’re going to be the most susceptible. I’m not. I’m healthy.”

Brown called Inslee’s orders “anarchy,” especially statewide bans that have closed recreational fishing.

“There’s nothing more isolated than being in a boat by yourself in a big body of water. That’s social distancing,” Brown said.

In a Tuesday evening speech, Inslee signaled that restrictions on outdoor recreation lands could lift soon, but he did not provide specifics.

As the rain came down Wednesday, few attending seemed fazed and hunkered down with their rods in the air, miles from any body of water.

A similar demonstration is planned for Saturday, April 25 in Wenatchee.

Copyright 2020 Northwest News Network

Nick Deshais roams eastern Washington, North Idaho and northeastern Oregon as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network. Nick has called the region home since 2008. As a journalist, he has always sought to tell the stories of the area’s many different people, from the dryland farmers above the Odessa aquifer to the roadbuilders of Spokane. Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Nick worked as a print reporter in Washington, Oregon and Michigan. Most recently, he covered city hall and urban affairs at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane. Nick was raised in rural Northern California, and is a graduate of Portland State University, where he earned degrees in history and math. When off the clock, Nick enjoys state-spanning bike tours, riding subways in foreign cities and walking slowly through museums. Nick’s reporting and writing has been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies and the Best of the West. He was a Knight-Wallace fellow at the University of Michigan in 2017, and a finalist for the Livingston Award for Young Journalists in 2011.