SPOKANE - Only months after leaving his post as Ephrata's city administrator to take on the same role in Spokane, Wes Crago nor any of his current colleagues envisioned themselves ever dealing with the chaos that unfolded during Sunday’s riots in downtown Spokane.
In January, Crago assumed the role of Spokane’s city admin after serving Ephrata in the same capacity for 16 years.
iFIBER ONE News reached out to Wes for a reaction on Sunday’s turmoil.
“I think the really important thing to remember is that there is a distinction between protesters and rioters,” said Crago. “Initially, we had a passionate protest movement with angry words, but when protesters engaged with officers, it deescalated.”
Crago went on to say that he was awestruck by what some might perceive as a conflict that would intensify, but didn’t when police expressed that they were offended by what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis and took a knee to show solidarity.
“It was the high point of the day, after two hours of marching, almost everyone went home,” Crago added.
However, Crago says the 300 out of 3,000 who remained in the downtown escalated the situation when they decided to smash business windows and loot stores.
“It went from verbal (commands), to smoke, to restraining people,” explained Crago.
Crago says the byproduct of the ordeal were some minor injuries and a city-mandated curfew, an order that Spokane has never enacted before.
During his conversation with iFIBER ONE News, Crago was asked to be candid about how he felt about what happened on the streets of Spokane.
“Anger and sadness,” Crago told iFIBER ONE News. “Anger that this unique moment of community solidarity was hijacked and one of the most important subjects we need to address as a community becoming more about rioters than the principal at hand.”
As for Crago’s safety, he had been stationed at an incident command post where he was surrounded by law enforcement as he monitored the situation.
Crago was asked if any of his former colleagues at the city of Ephrata had reached out to him during or after the crisis. “Yes, members of Ephrata’s police and fire department sent me messages of support.” In addition to that, Crago says the Moses Lake Regional Tactical Response Team had expressed their willingness to assist Spokane law enforcement if they were needed.
Despite the destruction, many of the protesters returned the following morning to clean broken glass and garbage, which was a “mark of the community,” according Crago.
Crago says the city was anticipating a recurrence of a riot Monday night.