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As trial begins in cop killing of George Floyd, Black Trans Lives Matter march crosses Capitol Hill

With reporting and photos by Renee Raketty

2021 has brought quieter weeks of protest and marches on Capitol Hill but activists were on the street this weekend to remind that Black Trans Lives Matter.

“I don’t care if you’re transgender, female or male. You’re disrespected, period,” one organizer told the Sunday group of marchers. “They see what they see because it is more important to them than who is in front of them — contributing to the patriarchy — than respecting what the human in front of them knows what they are.”

A crowd of about 75 people gathered around the Bobby Morris Playfield to light candles and hear speeches from BIPOC organizers for the Sunday afternoon march and vigil. Some attendees also wrote messages or the names of transgender people whose lives were cut short by transphobic violence. Still others brought flowers to lay at the site in their memory.

Last year was the deadliest on record in the nation for transgender individuals — 44 were murdered in 2020. Of those killed, 79% were trans people of color. Black Lives Matter protesters and members of Seattle’s transgender community joined forces for a vigil and march in response. Monday also marked International Women’s Day, an important yearly global celebration that activists and community organizers have called for increased inclusivity around.

The day of activism also echoed with the past months of Black Lives Matter and anti-police and jail demonstrations and marches through the area. Sunday’s march kicked-off at Cal Anderson Park and passed the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, traveling down 12th Ave to the King County youth jail facility at 12th Ave and E Spruce. The marchers heard from one young transgender woman, a former detainee, who detailed the abuse she and other transgender youth have suffered in the criminal justice system.

“Black trans lives matter is not a hashtag,” she said. “Locking up trans kids is not cute, period.”

The march left the youth jail site and traveled up E Alder to Boren before turning right onto Broadway. The demonstration then paused at Broadway and E Pine before returning to Cal Anderson Park.

Sunday’s march was part of a weekend of activism in the neighborhood. Saturday, a protest crossed the area in a demonstration calling for the end of war atrocities in the Tigray region of Ethiopia where a stewing military conflict continues to grow.

Meanwhile, demonstrations gathered at Westlake and more are planned as the trial begins for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. Chauvin currently faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death which set off months of Black Lives Matter protests across the country and, here, in Seattle.

Experts expect the trial to last through at least April.

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