Black Lives Matter march blocks downtown Seattle traffic for hours

Close to 500 people marched through Seattle after rallying briefly at Westlake Park and listening to words from Martin Luther King playing through a megaphone. Throughout the march, the protest would form a circle at intersections near sites relevant to issues of police brutality and almost anyone with something to say was given the opportunity to speak. Some of the younger protestors spoke through an adult translator but their passionate pleas for the right to exist spoke deeply to many, causing tears to be shed and cheers upon completion. The march wound through downtown Seattle, eventually marching to the SPD West Precinct where they again blocked the intersection. Demonstrators then walked up Capitol Hill on Pike before taking the intersection at Pine and 12th outside the SPD East Precinct. After a brief tour through downtown, the march eventually ended peacefully at Westlake Park.

Some see another Black Lives Matter march blocking streets and causing traffic in downtown Seattle, while others see another unarmed black man shot with his hands up, as was the case with Charles Kinsey in North Miami on Monday, July 18th. Kinsey, a behavioral therapist, was attending to an autistic patient in the street who was holding a white, toy truck in his hand. When North Miami police arrived, Kinsey lay on his back and put his hands in the air, but was soon shot by an officer who the president of the police union claims “The movement of the white individual made it look like he was going to discharge a firearm into Mr. Kinsey and the officer discharged trying to strike and stop the white man and unfortunately, he missed the white male and shot Mr. Kinsey by accident.”

After being shot, Charles Kinsey was flipped over on his stomach, handcuffed, and left bleeding for almost 20 minutes. Kinsey survived the shooting and recalls asking the officer why he was shot. The officers response, “I don’t know.”

Some see protest as ineffective, others see it as way for people to grieve together and find community through empowerment in taking the street. Some actions are more planned than others, some are more direct, some are subtle, but not everyone can attend every march, or every meeting, so having more than one option provides additional opportunity for engagement.

 

Capitol Hill Seattle blog covered the march as it made it’s way around the Pike/Pine corridor.

 

 

Seattle Hotel Workers Fight For Safety

On Wednesday July 20th, dozens of hotel workers, union members, and community supporters gathered at Seattle’s Labor Temple, home of Unite Here Local 8 to support hotel workers fighting for safe work environments. Despite the heat, over a hundred people gathered at Hall 8 to hear directly from workers experiencing unsafe, over worked, and threatening environments and speaking in support of Initiative 124.

“Health and safety standards to protect Seattle’s hotel housekeepers from sexual harassment and inhumane workloads. Access to affordable family medical care and basic job security.”

Read more about the initiative.

Pramila Jayapal opened the event with praise of immigrant women and women of color who were in the room. She then spoke of the importance of workplace safety, “safety, security, injury on the job, these are not things that are separate from having a good business and having good hotels.” City Council members Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold, and Mike O’Brien all spoke in favor of the initiative.

Seattlish covered the topic brilliantly.

 

You can read more on personal accounts by workers in this great article by Sara Bernard for the Seattle Weekly.

Vigil turns to protest as Black Lives Matter takes Seattle streets

Thousands in Seattle attended a vigil for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on Thursday, July 7th. The vigil soon turned to protest as a thousand people marched in Seattle’s streets from Westlake Park to the Federal Courthouse. They then marched to the Seattle Police Department Headquarters before attempting to enter the highway. Seattle police responded by lobbing blast balls into the crowd and blocked the entrance and exit to the interstate. Activists made a brief stop at the King County jail, shouting words of love and encouragement to the inmates trapped inside, before hitting Westlake Park before ending at The Space Needle. No arrests were made.

You can read more about the event at The Seattle Weekly

Black Lives Matter Activists March For Safety of Women and Girls

Weeks after a lawsuit was filed against Jared Williams, a Tacoma police officer, by 17 year old Monique Tillman, approximately 100 activists marched in protest of police violence. The “Black Girls Matter” rally and march was was attended by a spectrum of races and cultures. Security was provided by armed and unarmed members of the New Black Panthers. Family members of Jacqueline Salyers, a Puyallup Tribal member who was shot and killed by Tacoma Police in January were also in attendance, all seeking justice for family and community members. The march gathered at the Tacoma Police Department Headquarters and marched to the Tacoma Mall, approximately 1 mile away. The activists marched around the mall and to the parking lot where Monique Tillman was recorded on surveillance video being thrown by her hair to the ground and tasered by off-duty cop and security guard Jared Williams. The march ended back at the Tacoma Police Department Headquarters. Activists declared the march was to celebrate the life of young black girls in addition to protesting police brutality. Activists are also demanding that Jared Williams be fired from the Tacoma Police Department.

 

The “Break Free” international day of action brings thousands to protest oil refineries

Day 1

Friday –  May 13th, 2016

Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein gets a kayaktivism training before hitting the water with the luminary flotilla, demanding a transition to renewable energy using LED light panels and paper lantern globes to send their message.

 

Day 2

Saturday – May 14th, 2016

Under the cover of darkness, environmental activists met at Farm to Market road and Highway 20 and began putting their lives on the line in protest of fossil fuels. The railroad blockade took over BNSF tracks leading to the Shell and Tesoro oil refineries at March Point, near Anacortes, Washington. Over 100 people blocked the tracks, they locked to a van, set up tents, and erected scaffolding to prevent an average of 100 oil tankers per day from reaching their destination. Four tents with composting toilets lined the tracks allowing campers privacy, while volunteers, self described as “scarabs”, gathered buckets when full for proper disposal. Despite false reports by some media outlets, trash was regularly picked up, removed, and properly disposed of, even going so far as to separate compost, recycling, and trash. Being environmentalists, banners, signs, and even bedding were made from recycled items.

 

 

While over 100 activists blocked rail lines, over 1000 activists and indigenous leaders marched almost 8 miles past the Shell and Tesoro refineries in protest of continued research and exploration for fossil fuels instead of concentrating on renewable energy. The Swinomish people, who were the traditional stewards of the land occupied by the oil refineries, lost their land when President Grant took it in 1873 by executive order. Now the waters are so toxic they can no longer gather shellfish.

 

Activists committed to the rail blockade stayed again for a second night as they were joined by others with tents, bringing the numbers for night two close to 200 people occupying railroad tracks. The determination of the protestors was as high as their spirits, as they sat on and around the scaffolding and road crossing, singing songs and eating donated food. Determined in their attempt at a transition from fossil fuel to coal, activists were confident in their mission of disrupting the fossil fuel industry. You can read more about the “Just Transition” movement here, http://breakfreepnw.org/2016/04/26/getting-serious-keeping-fossil-fuels-ground-means-getting-serious-just-transition/.

 

Day 3

Sunday – May 15th, 2016

The next day at 5:30am, activists were roused from their tents by almost 50 armed riot police and given the option to leave or be arrested. Many chose to stay, holding on to “lock boxes” which make it difficult for police to separate protestors. Police are often forced to use rescue saws to remove the metal wrapped tubes from activists. This display of civil disobedience ended with the arrest of 52 activists and several trespass charges.