Police in riot gear and body armor were out in force again on Capitol Hill Wednesday night to guard against possible Seattle unrest following yet another controversial grand jury decision over the use of deadly force by police.
A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict “a white New York police officer whose chokehold on an unarmed black man led to the man’s death” helped set off a new round of street protests here in Seattle with around 100 marchers taking to the streets around downtown and Westlake Park Wednesday night.
The group eventually marched to Seattle Center to the site of the JT Williams memorial totem. Williams, a homeless man who frequented the Capitol Hill area, was shot to death by an SPD officer in 2010 at Boren and Howell. Officer Ian Birk was not charged in the incident and also escaped federal prosecution but eventually quit the Seattle force.
Protests are planned to continue Thursday night and police officials say SPD will continue to show a heavy presence both downtown and on Capitol Hill near Broadway and Pine where groups have sometimes rallied before recent marches against the grand jury decision in Ferguson in the Michael Brown killing. Downtown protests, we’ve noted, are sometimes also channeled up Capitol Hill from the city’s commercial core, a practice CHS asked SPD about earlier this week.
Downtown businesses are suffering lost business during the holiday shopping season, according to anecdotal reports.
In the meantime, you’ll likely see armored cops on bikes on Broadway and street barriers up around East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine nightly for the foreseeable future.
UPDATE 12/5/2014 10:10 AM: In addition to protests planned to focus on downtown Friday night (though with some likelihood of ending up on Hill at some point — UPDATE: At least one group is saying it plans to take Friday night off so as not to disrupt Friday’s Figgy Pudding caroling downtown), a large “Protest Against Police Brutality” is being organized to begin Saturday at 23rd Ave’s Garfield High School:
The march will start at Garfield High School and proceed to go to the police headquarters on 5th Avenue. There, we will make sure our voices are heard. We will make sure the police know that we will not stand for their violence. Have your voice be heard. You are not alone.
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Mission Statement: We are here on behalf of the Black Community, in solidarity with Ferguson, in honor of Mike Brown to address through nonviolence, the crisis of police brutality towards the Black Community in order to achieve the short term goal of a fair and just trial for Mike Brown and the long term goal of reconstructing the justice system that has continuously failed the Black Community.
In order to make sure the mission of this protest is accurately portrayed we have come up with some guidelines. They are as follows:
• No violence
• Do NOT touch the police officers
• Do NOT agitate the police officers
• Do NOT deface/destroy city or private property
• Do NOT move city or private property
Please be aware that this protest has been organized to the very last minute in order to ensure that the media, in no way, can skew the actions of the protest or the protesters. If you do not follow these guidelines you will be asked to stop and then you will be asked to leave.
*We are NOT affiliated with any group or organization. We are just a group of people who want to be a part of the progress of change*