With reporting by Lena Friedman — CHS Intern
After a summer of protest, this weekend in Seattle might have been the strangest bout of activism yet with a demonstration targeting the city’s marijuana industry and most notorious potrepreneur getting things started and a huge — and hugely reckless — Christian concert in Cal Anderson finishing things off Sunday night.
In between, hundreds of people showed up outside City Hall to protest planned Seattle Police budget cuts, hundreds protested for those cuts and changes — and, by the time it was all over, there was broken glass again on Capitol Hill.
Things started Friday night with activists from Engage Seattle leading an “anti-gentrification rally and Uncle Ike’s boycott” encircling two of the Ian Eisenberg-owned cannabis shops.
“We are gathered here today to boycott Ike’s not because it’s successful, but because we are fed up with the racist lies, the hypocrisy, and the blatant and obvious and visible gentrification,” an organizer said in front of Uncle Ike’s flagship store on 23rd and Union, a prominent intersection where Black people were frequently arrested for selling marijuana and other drugs.
The Uncle Ike’s chain of pot shops continues to attract hundreds of protestors amid a growing campaign centered around racism within the cannabis industry.
Among the demands directed at Uncle Ike’s, organizers called for new store openings like the E Olive Way spot to be halted, to have a recorded meeting with Eisenberg and “discuss his role in gentrification and the impact on the Black community in Seattle,” and for 15% of of the business’s monthly profit to go toward an anti-gentrification land fund. Organizers are asking protestors to boycott the chain and call district attorney Dan Satterberg to dismiss existing marijuana-related charges.
Protestors first gathered at the Uncle Ike’s location on 15th and Republican, where speakers addressed racial inequities in the legal marijuana industry. With chants like “until we see equality, no more Ike’s for you and me,” protesters marched through the streets until they reached 23rd and Union where speakers, teach-ins and drag performances continued into the night.
“The criminalization of local dealers and users of illicit substances leads to time behind bars, violence at the hands of the police and displacement of communities,” a speaker from the University of Washington’s Black Lives Matter chapter told the crowd. “The Eisenbergs just happened to sweep in when weed was legalized and capitalize on an industry in a city where no Black-owned weed shops exist.”
Sunday in Cal Anderson, the scene also included singing and dancing and a large crowd — but here almost nobody was wearing a mask.
Charismatic Christian pastor Sean Feucht continued his tour in the Pacific Northwest with a concert Sunday night in the park that was part evangelical revival, part provocative protest of the state’s mask mandate and safety precautions in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
The “You Be The One” rally on the “Let Us Worship” tour stop in Seattle included dancing and music as well as a bout of communal baptism in the middle of the Capitol Hill park that remains officially “temporarily closed” after the protest zone and camp sweep in early July.
They are baptizing people, including children, in the SAME dirty water at a packed nearly maskless rally. This is gross and tragic and people are absolutely catching covid there right now. pic.twitter.com/4QlSfA6Ucu
— ✨ Lila ✨ (@lilalololol) August 10, 2020
I'm at Cal Anderson Park for worship leader and conservative activist Sean Feucht's concert. Hundreds of people are packed together and singing. So far I've counted 2 masks. pic.twitter.com/rpFIDqf8Ki
— Casey Martin (@caseyworks) August 10, 2020
The Stranger’s Rich Smith reported on Sunday’s appearance and Feucht’s odd connection to the movement around George Floyd:
The killing of Floyd also touched Feucht and his band of believers. Shortly after the killing, one of them claimed God spoke with him and directed him to organize a nationwide virus revival tour. They’ve been traveling (and raising money) ever since, spreading vague messages about “UNIFYING THE CHURCH” and “racial reconciliation,” which apparently requires people to establish a “vertical relationship with God” that will presumably create a horizontal relationship with other human beings. Or something. I don’t know, this was just the shit he said. (It’s worth noting the crowd was almost entirely white, and that many Black leaders call for reparations—not some sort of personal, spiritual “reconciliation.”)
Feucht’s next stop is planned to be Federal Way.
Earlier Sunday, hundreds rallied against SPD budget cuts and layoffs in an event at City Hall. “I hope that tomorrow’s vote they’re being influenced to vote no. Because the ignored majority is finally being heard. The unreasonable activism must stop and the unreasonable communities saying no more to this defund nonsense because it’s got everybody’s public safety in jeopardy,” Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Guild, said, according to KING 5.
Counter-protesters met the pro-police crowds and, later Sunday night, a crowd of a few hundred marched across Capitol Hill with some in the march targeting banks and Amazon-owned businesses with vandalism and property damage. Police took several protesters into custody.
Monday, the full city council will take up a package of proposed cuts and changes at SPD that members say are equivalent to a “43%” cut to the remaining policing budget for 2020 as part of the months-long debate over equity and racism in the city sparked by the protests that followed the police killing of George Floyd.
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