The Yakima Police Department said it has received no credible information about the possibility of violent protests in the Yakima area.
After taking a number of calls, the department said, “No reliable information has been confirmed regarding public rumors of a violent protest occurring. We continue to monitor this situation and will update this post as necessary,” the department said on its Facebook page.
“The community and the participants of peaceful marches that have been occurring throughout the week can be assured that we were investigating any rumor of violence that we are being made aware of. Additionally, our patrol division is planning for and addressing significant public safety concerns with extra staffing and communication with concerned businesses.”
Chief Matthew Murray said armed people stood outside two businesses Friday night on South First Street.
“I can’t tell you what their purpose was. They didn’t tell me,” he said.
People do have a right to bear arms, but there wasn't a need because there was no threat and Friday's protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement were peaceful, Murray said.
Murray said the police department’s Facebook page has been flooded with questions from the public asking why people toting guns are standing in front of businesses.
“You look on our Facebook page and a lot of people ask us that question,” he said.
Richland and Kennewick police put out similar statements this week about rumors of violent protests.
“There are currently several claims making their way through social media that Antifa or Violent Opportunists are either already in the Tri-Cities by the hundreds or are travelling here to cause civil unrest,” Kennewick police said. “These claims are uncorroborated at this time.”
The Walmart in East Yakima closed early on Friday afternoon, with security officials saying it was because of a threat of riot and protest.
Local protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis, started Saturday in Yakima. They have been peaceful. Yakima protesters gathered at Fair Avenue and Nob Hill Boulevard on Friday evening.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been changed to add information about people with guns Friday night in downtown Yakima.