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'Race is a Factor': Protests Follow Police Shooting in Washington State

Two unarmed black men shot after being stopped by police in Olympia expected to live

Bryson Chaplin (left) and Andre Thompson, who were shot Thursday by a white police officer, are expected to survive. (Photo: Facebook)

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Olympia, Washington on Thursday night to demonstrate against the police shooting of two unarmed black men that took place earlier that day.

Andre Thompson, 24, and Bryson Chaplin, 21, who are step-brothers, both survived being shot in the chest. Thompson was listed as stable in serious critical condition Thursday night and Chaplin was listed as critical. They are both expected to live.

According to the Associated Press, about 400 people gathered in Olympia's Woodruff Park, about a mile from where the shooting took place, to listen to speakers and march to City Hall.

The officer who shot the men, Ryan Donald, is white. Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts said during a press conference Thursday that he didn't believe "race was a factor" in the case.

Hours later, however, the protesters who gathered in the state capital hoisted signs reading, "Race is a Factor" and "We Are Grieving" as they marched to the police headquarters and City Hall, chanting the names of the men. They shouted, "Black lives matter!", a rallying cry that has become the signature of the civil rights movement that emerged after the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August.

The Olympian reports:

As of 7:45 p.m., the crowd was seated in a downtown intersection, taking a 4 1/2-minute pause to commemorate the 4 1/2 hours Michael Brown’s body was in the street.

... Speakers talked about recent shootings nationwide, and how angry they were to see a similar event in their own town.  "It's not a problem that privilege exists," said Jose Gutierez Jr. "It always will. It’s how we use it."

Donald was responding to a report of shoplifting from a Safeway in the area when he stopped the men, who reportedly fit the suspects' description. Moments before the shooting, Donald radioed to other officers that one of the men assaulted him with a skateboard. However, reports say he is uninjured.

"It was terrible," the men's mother, Crystal Chaplin, told KIRO-TV. "It's heartbreaking to see two of my babies in the hospital over something stupid."

The case was immediately turned over to outside investigators.

Twitter users updated the protest and the case under the hashtag #OlympiaShooting.

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