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Small protest after big MLK Day march snarls Seattle traffic


(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Monday afternoon’s MLK Day march drew one of the largest crowds in recent memory (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)


City Council member Kshama Sawant at the march’s stop outside the youth detention center. Sawant told the crowd government should develop new jobs, not spend $200 million on a youth jail (Image: Dennis Saxma with permission to CHS)

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 5.53.45 PM

Jesse Hagopian posted this picture and update to Facebook: I was marching for Martin Luther King day today–amazing march! At one point after the big main march, group of bike cops set up a line to keep us from marching. Some people walked through the line, but I didn’t. When my phone rang, I turned away from the cops and be gain walking away to answer the phone. A cop then ran up in my face and pepper sprayed me right in the face. The milk has helped a lot and I’m beginning to feel better. Wish we had a better world.

A small group of protesters against police violence chained together to block Highway 99 and marchers trying to block I-5 via onramps and exits including the busy Mercer corridor followed Seattle’s MLK Day march from Garfield High School to the Federal Courthouse — and tangled up the city’s relatively light holiday commute traffic.

Earlier in the day, thousands of marchers left Garfield after a morning of workshops and speakers in the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. Committee March & Festival.

View more photos from the day here.

Following the march, police converged on the groups of protesters still active around the Mercer corridor and worked to cut apart the group that had bound themselves together in an effort to block 99. Media outlets were reporting at least five people had been arrested as of 4 PM. UPDATE: SPD says there were 19 arrests.

Protesters were reported to still be moving in the area as police worked to keep the streets cleared for the evening commute.

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34 thoughts on “Small protest after big MLK Day march snarls Seattle traffic

  1. I will never understand protestors tactic of blocking traffic and pissing off the very people they claim to represent. It’s like trying to make friends by punching people in the face. Total douche move.

      • I think that a large, well-attended march, with relevant speeches along the way, is much more effective than blocking traffic and pissing off lots of people…..when the latter happens, “the message” is not heard, or worse it turns people against that message.

      • Yes, I remember when MLK had a bunch of bored white kids tie themselves across lanes off traffic with signs that read “Black lives matter.”

      • and that’s the point i think @20+ years in the CD is trying to make. their actions didn’t do anything to change the policy of “business as usual” and didn’t bring attention to the cause. what it did was draw attention to THEM (the protesters) and their antics.

        how’s that supposed to change years of bigoted thinking?

    • How will people understand and pay attention if they aren’t forced to see the action and protests. Blocking roads are civil and non-violent and force people to face important issues they might normally try to avoid.

  2. It’s not about winning the policy arguments, it’s about one of two things: there’s the 0 hard core, who want to overturn society, and there’re the idealistic and easily-deluded who want to preen as morally superior to the rest of the world.

  3. No Anarchists? What–did they get lost and couldn’t find their way off Capitol Hill? Or maybe they all took the day off from (not)working.

  4. i really find the blocking of 99 by cisgendered whites to be problematic. While it is important we work as allies with PoC we must follow, not lead, otherwise we simply reinforce white colonialism and patriarchy.

      • I find that very unlikely since no PoC were at the protest. This looks like typical colonial and patriarchal thinking, whites ‘speaking’ for PoC. This looks like an attempt at cultural appropriation to create yet another white supremist narrative. Your comments reflect the typical kind of microaggressions that white allies must avoid at all costs.

      • Get out of here. Where you there? Because the whole movement when speaking of blocking the highway was led BY POC AND ONLY POC had microphones ect. There were white people and cis gendered males present for sure alongside black, Asian, Muslim, Hispanic poc including myself. I’m all for POC only having a voice in these marches and rallies and cis gendered white men need to know their place in these spaces but unless you weren’t there then don’t assume shit.

      • Not on Highway 99, they were entirely white, cisgenders. Look at the photos on the Stranger blog.

        I find your inability to see how this would be problematic and violent.

      • They never got permission for any PoCs to have this action and they should have, as good allies. I was there.

        This is the type of behavior only cisgendered, sex normative, privileged whites would think was not oppressive, but it clearly is and is VERY problematic from a social justice point of view. Next time they need clear permission from a PoC for any kind of anti-colonial, anti-patriarchy action.

      • I participated in the direct action and was in planning meetings for the direct action. The post-march action was Black planned and Black led. I’m not sure why Otherin thinks otherwise.

      • I’m not talking about the march, I’m talking about the 99 action by all whites. As a someone who identifies as a queer PoC (my grandmother was part Cherokee) who is also genderfluid, I really think you need to check your cisgendered white privilege. I, and many other PoC queer folks did not approve of the action on 99 by exclusively white cisgenders. They and you who need to check your male white privilege.

    • Why so salty?
      Queer black woman here to steer you in the right direction. Guess what? This wasn’t your protest. You planned none of it. You watched an action unfold–a black lives matter action on MLK day– and because your grandmother was “part cherokee”, you’ve somehow claimed ownership of the entire thing. Does that not just reek of privilege to you? QWOC weren’t left in the dark, you were. Sorry I’m not sorry that we didn’t ask for your permission.

      If you’re trolling, great job.
      If you’re serious: please stop, you’re embarrassing yourself. Reading a couple of tumblr blogs does not make you an expert on identity politics.

  5. If you want a memorable protest go to the CD, Storm Amazon, flood Pike Place or the city hall. Don’t block traffic. That’s a dumb move.

  6. As a someone who identifies as a queer PoC (my grandmother was part Cherokee) who is also genderfluid, I really think you need to check your cisgendered white privilege. I, and many other PoC queer folks did not approve of the action on 99 by exclusively white cisgenders. They and you who need to check your male white privilege.

      • Please someone explain what gender has to do with it. I’m gender atypical and queer but I don’t see how that matters. Also MLK brought whites and other non-POC in as supporters, male and female (in case you’re wondering, I identify as female). It is just this sort of fighting about who wants to help that takes energy away from the real effort and goals of actions like these (and turns away supporters, who don’t want to be attacked like this from people they are trying to help). Unite, don’t divide.

  7. Hey mods – this account (otherkin) is pretty clearly spamming and trolling, trying to drum up antipathy against what they no doubt call ‘social justice warriors’ elsewhere. Hope we can get a ban. thanks!

  8. The funny thing is there are some people in this town so full of their own shit, you really can’t tell sometimes when it’s trolling or for-real.

  9. Otherkin is definitely trolling. I don’t like identity politics either, in another context I might think it was funny but not here. This action is a beautiful demonstration of the very opposite of identity politics. Dr. King participated in and planned demonstrations that shut down entire cities, and this demonstration was nonviolent so don’t give me any of that well you should be nonviolent like Dr. King bs. He was not just some nice guy in a suit that never offended anybody. Now it seems anyone can claim the image of Dr. King and twist it for their own agenda.

  10. Pingback: With SPD’s use of force in MLK Day protest ‘under review,’ Garfield High teacher suing city | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle