— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) March 5, 2017
Around 2,000 people gathered Saturday night at Seattle Central for a Black Lives Matter protest that ended up covering a lot of mileage — and a lot of issues — with stops at a multitude of sites around Capitol Hill and the Central District including the East Precinct, the county’s youth jail facility, a troubled property on the backside of 23rd Ave’s Midtown Center, and, yes, Uncle Ike’s.
After a stop at the locked-down East Precinct at 12th and Pine, the huge three-block crowd of marchers made its way down 12th toward the King County Youth Services Center — also known as juvenile hall. Last week, activists learned that the the Hearing Examiner had dismissed an appeal blocking construction of a new youth jail and justice center at the site. In a decision issued last week, the examiner dismissed the appeal brought by Ending the Prison Industrial Complex’s asking for exceptions made in permits issued by the city to be overturned.
Despite the procedural setback, those who oppose the $210 million project seem to have made an impression. In January, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray called on his counterparts at the county to give their plans for the new facility a “second look.”
— NeighborhoodAction 💖 (@NeighborhoodAct) March 5, 2017
In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s march, Black Freedom Front activist Mohawk Kuzm had billed the rally and march as an action against inequality and the Trump administration and hundreds responded following large marches this year for women’s and LGBTQ rights. Later Saturday, Kuzm said the protest was “hijacked” only minutes into the proceedings by the Block the Bunker activists, a cause that successfully pushed back on a planned $149 million new North Precinct project. While the protest remained peaceful through the change in leadership and for the march’s tour of important Capitol Hill and Central District sites, SPD resources on hand for Saturday night’s event were aware of the change, according to police radio dispatches, and uncertain of the plans the new leaders had for the march as they positioned officers amidst the protest.
By the end of a peaceful night of marching that took the protesters from Broadway to the Central District, the crowd had dwindled to a few hundred after the protest was led to the UMOJA Peace Center and residence of activist Omari Tahir Garrett at 24th and Spring. The property is part of the block community group Africatown is working to purchase and develop with partners as a large, mixed-use project that champions what Garrett’s son and CEO of Africatown K. Wyking Garrett calls “inclusionary development.” The elder Garrett, who has lived in a rented house on the lot for years, said he is being evicted to make way for downtown development interests in a media conference held at the property earlier Saturday.
With only a few dozen protesters remaining, the crowd made on last final stop at 23rd and Union to attempt to form a wall of people around the marijuana store. The pot shop is a frequent target as a symbol of gentrification and what activists have said is the institutional racism that has shut black owners out of the legal marijuana industry.
There were no reported injuries, arrests, or serious damage on the night — though two people identified by police radio as “Trump supporters” were asked to leave the area at one point to help keep things calm.