Is the Capitol Hill protest season over?

With reporting by Renee Raketty

The marches, rallies, and actions have once again shifted and there have been more nights than not lately with quiet streets around Capitol Hill’s walled-off East Precinct. Some might think Seattle protest season has ended just as the drizzle season has arrived.

“The protest community is feeling the strain of almost 180 days of continuous action. Increasing COVID numbers, a change in Seattle police tactics, factionalization, and the logical progression of a protest into political activity have reduced daily turnout,” David Obelcz, a frequent protest live streamer and publisher of said. “It is worth noting the 150-day march and the November 4 march had more than 1,000 people. Anyone who is pouring one out for Black Lives Matter in Seattle is doing so prematurely.”

But the night of the 150-day march did seem to mark a turning point. In the weeks since, demonstrations have been spread out across the city including the International District, Northgate, and West Seattle, plus a tangle with some Proud Boys in Mill Creek, along with a couple nights of protest activity starting as it has for months in Cal Anderson. But groups on the Hill have been smaller and reports of vandalism at the East Precinct and business property damage have quieted since October. Even the E Olive Way Starbucks has reopened though the neighborhood’s parking meters remain busted.

For larger rallies and marches, the changes seem to be a focus on a wider area of the city and a push toward quality over quantity. There are fewer events but a more robust deployment of resources including the safety of the “Car Brigade” and sometimes a split of marchers into two or more groups to stretch Seattle Police resources and limit law enforcement interference.

SPD also has new tactics and new equipment — though its deployment in the East Precinct has also become a relative rarity.

The causes of the Black Lives Matter groups and the anti-police “direct action” activists don’t cleave to a legislative schedule but another season has also passed. Continue reading

Council rejects ‘No New Cops’ bid in 2021 budget, adding to Seattle’s list of #defundSPD compromises

After months of protest and activism for Black Lives Matter causes and defunding the police, the political accomplishments for the movements in Seattle continue to be a work in progress.

Thursday, a bid to freeze any new hiring at the Seattle Police Department next year grown out of the activist-backed “Solidarity Budget” effort and championed by Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales failed as the council wrapped up a marathon two days of amendments to pound out the city’s final 2021 budget.

A final vote on the budget comes Monday when the hiring issue is unlikely to again hit the table.

The “No New Cops” proposal would have redirected $9 million in officer salaries to social and community service spending Inspired by the Solidarity Budget, a slate of spending proposals from a coalition of community and activist groups, only Morales and Sawant backed the proposed budget amendment Thursday as council president Lorena González and others argued that attrition fears pushed forward by Mayor Jenny Durkan and budget cuts to the department could hinder SPD’s public safety efforts. Continue reading

President-elect Biden making Friday night address — ‘Protect Every Person’ rally Saturday in Westlake

(Image: Biden for President)

After an excruciating Election Night and week of steadily growing vote counts for the Democratic challengers, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are planned to address the nation Friday night.

A scheduled hour for the “prime time” appearance has not been announced.

Vote totals Friday showed Biden and Harris winning Pennsylvania, putting the ticket over the 270 threshold required to claim Electoral College victory — though major media has been reluctant to declare winners in the race and in still un-called battlegrounds Georgia and Nevada given the blistering attacks leveled over early calls on Arizona.

The Trump administration campaign is also threatening legal actions and has hopes for recounts but most experts agree any reversal of the totals seen by Friday in the remaining states seemed highly unlikely.

Continue reading

As Seattle struggles to meet larger Black Lives Matter goals, city will transfer two more Central District properties to community ownership

Fire Station 6

Protesters outside Seattle’s emergency operations center this summer

The Seattle City Council voted unanimously Monday to transfer two long-sought Central District properties back to the community after years of hope and promises including pledges from Mayor Jenny Durkan this summer as Black Lives Matter movement demonstrations grew in Seattle.

The transfer of the Central Area Senior Center on 30th Ave and Fire Station 6 at 23rd and Yesler comes after an increased push in recent months connected to protests and demands from community groups and activists.

Africatown Community Land Trust, which has been pushing the city to transfer the property for seven years, will now have a 99-year lease on the fire station property. The organization will look to turn the decommissioned space into the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation, which advocates hope will serve as a technological hub of a community that hasn’t had as much access to the resources needed to be successful.

“This community asset will help close the gap we are already seeing in Seattle where there is an astronomical economic growth that is not resulting in all communities benefiting,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who sponsored the legislation for both transfers.

Community organizer TraeAnna Holiday told CHS last month, for example, that she hopes children will be able to use 3D printers there they wouldn’t have had otherwise which could make them better candidates for local jobs.

The city designated this site as ripe for a possible cultural center four years ago, but the process was fast-forwarded after the transfer was included as one of the hyper-local demands from recent protests.

Africatown held a press conference with hundreds in attendance in front of the fire station in June, calling on the city to finally make the transfer. Continue reading

Seattle marks 150 days of protest with march from Capitol Hill

“Seattle organizers are planning a protest against police brutality as clashes with cops and rioting in Minneapolis have continued in the fiery unrest following the killing of George Floyd,” CHS reported Friday, May 29th.

That May march was organized by Central District anti-police and gun violence group Not This Time and activist Andre Taylor. But by the end of the night as thousands moved through the streets of the city and across Capitol Hill, it was clear that something larger was taking place.

150 day later, organizers of the groups that have formed and galvanized in the months since that first night of protest in Seattle gathered smaller crowds Monday night in Cal Anderson Park. Still measuring in the hundreds, the demonstrators heard organizers plead for those who showed up to mark the milestone and recommit to bolster the ongoing demonstrations and Black Lives Matter cause. Some expressed surprise at the large turnout as smaller groups have been continuing to protest, march, and sometimes take direct action with property damage and vandalism in the weeks since the larger citywide protests have ended.

A CHS timeline of the “150 days” is below. Continue reading

Arrests and charges against duo in bat and Molotov cocktail attacks on East Precinct — and a glimpse inside black bloc

Charges against two friends police say were responsible for Molotov cocktail attacks at the East Precinct, fires in the streets of Pike/Pine, and the bat attack on a riot officer during a September clash with police that made national headlines provide a glimpse into the ongoing black bloc demonstrations on Capitol Hill and across Seattle and reveal the simple clues that allowed detectives to track down the suspects.

Seattle Police and the King County Prosecutor announced the arrests in the most high profile recent protest incidents and charges against Jacob Greenburg, 19, and Danielle McMillan, 29, this week.

Greenburg, a Kirkland resident, is charged with first degree attempted arson, reckless burning, and first degree assault for the September bat attack on an officer after police moved in on a large crowd of protesters demonstrating against injustice in the Breonna Taylor case as a grand jury in Kentucky declined to file homicide charges in the March 2020 killing of the 26-year-old Black woman. Greenburg also faces a charge of being armed with a deadly weapon in the attack. Police say the teen has no known criminal history.

McMillan, who lists an Everett address, is charged with first degree arson and also has a limited criminal record. In 2018, she was busted for reckless driving, and was charged with obstruction in 2011. She also faced minor drug charges in 2009, the court records state.

Both are scheduled to enter pleas on the charges next week.

The prosecutor’s office says the case is one of around 20 it is handling from arrests made during months of protest across the city. “The overwhelming majority of protest-related arrests are never referred to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office,” the office said in a statement.

In the court documents, police describe the baseball bat attack that left the officer stunned but not seriously injured, and a series of Molotov cocktail attacks and arsons around the East Precinct that Greenburg and McMillan are alleged to have planned and taken part in. Following the attack on the officer, police asked for the public’s help tracking down the suspect and began searching for more information about the person seen striking the officer in video of the assault circulating online. Police say the duo also made incriminating statements to each other via text. “can we like pls slit every spd throat,” the 19-year-old is alleged to have texted. Continue reading

Black-led organizers, Sawant at odds with mayor over community’s role in how City of Seattle spends

By Ben Adlin

After a summer marked by protests over police racism and brutality, Seattle officials and community organizers seem to agree that vulnerable communities deserve a greater say in the city’s budget process. But with little more than a month before the City Council adopts its 2021 budget, stakeholders still differ sharply over what that involvement will look like.

There are competing visions. Some focus on a $100 million fund proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan to support initiatives aimed at benefiting Black, brown, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. A task force made up of representatives from local equity organizations, selected by the mayor, would guide the process by issuing recommendations on how the money might be spent. Durkan’s office last week announced an initial list of more than two dozen members.

Others see another way — put forward by King County Equity Now, a Black-led coalition of community groups and businesses, alongside the group Decriminalize Seattle — and are skeptical of the mayor’s proposal. Little about Durkan’s plan, they say, would put sufficient power in the hands of BIPOC communities, particularly Black people, to undo generations of racist policies in the city.

Instead, KCEN and its partner groups are hard at work on the first phase of a grander budget scheme aimed at giving Seattleites a more direct say in issues that affect their daily lives. That process could eventually control up to $200 million, some organizers say—twice the mayor’s proposed BIPOC fund.

The two views represent contrasting visions of the growing push for participatory budgeting centered on the principle that the people most affected by public policies deserve a voice in how they’re made. Continue reading

Durkan names 28 to Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force to set course for $100M in Seattle BIPOC spending

Mayor Durkan’s $100 million pledge came as the city set about dismantling CHOP this summer

Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced the members selected for the 28-person Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force, a group her office says will “spearhead a community-led process” to allocate “a historic $100 million new investment in Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities” and “address the deep disparities caused by systemic racism and institutionalized oppression.”

The task force will include District 3 connections in the pastor of 14th Ave’s First AME Church, the president of Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central College, the head of Central District nonprofit Byrd Barr Place, and Ray Williams of the Black Farmers Collective, the urban farming group active in the Yesler neighborhood and the Central District. Continue reading

At 11th and Pine, Capitol Hill’s Black Lives Matter mural is here to stay

(Image: CHS)

A spontaneous expression of art in the middle of Capitol Hill’s center of Black Lives Matter protest in the summer of 2020 has become a Pike/Pine landmark even as the city is still trying to live up to the movement’s demands.

Over the weekend, artists finished their work recreating their massive Black Lives Matter mural in the middle of E Pine with new longer-lasting coats of paint designed to withstand the weather and rigors of a busy city street. The traffic post island and mural are hoped to become a permanent part of the pavement just south of Cal Anderson. Continue reading

Want to join the CHOP lawsuit against the city? You have until February as trial date set for 2022

The Seattle City Attorney’s office and lawyers for a collection of Capitol Hill property owners and businesses suing over the CHOP occupied protest zone have agreed on at least one thing: if the case ever goes to trial, justice will take years.

According to the latest filings in the case, both sides in the CHOP lawsuit have agreed they won’t be ready for a trial until February 2022 — one year and seven months from the day Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered the camp raided and swept.

CHS last reported on the case in August as lawyers for the real estate companies and small businesses suing City Hall countered the City Attorney’s efforts to have the class action suit dismissed. Seattle’s motion from the summer focused on an argument that you can’t sue over a city’s “inaction” to protest. remains on the table but, for now, the federal class action case moves forward. Continue reading