2020 Seattle Black Film Festival streams this weekend

Delayed and moved online by the COVID-19 crisis, the Seattle Black Film Festival begins Friday with a streamed schedule of screenings and events. The delay makes for a timely arrival of Langston’s annual festival after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle and also means a busy weekend for film as the city gets a slow, cooler start start to summer.

No tickets are required to participate in all festival events, but donations to Langston are encouraged. You can find a full schedule and more information at langstonseattle.org.

While the online experience might lack some of the social aspects of attending the festival in person, an online film festival can match much of the urgency of making your way through a packed schedule of screenings and speakers. The event is streamed as a live festival — not an on demand archive: Continue reading

The Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s has reopened after being closed ‘indefinitely’ for remodel after Black Lives Matter controversy — Here’s what’s changed

Thanks to CHS reader Andrew for the pictures

The E Madison Trader Joe’s has reopened after one of the stranger remodeling closures in Capitol Hill grocery store history with a new layout that seems optimized for the new world of COVID-19 era retail.

We asked readers in the Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group to report back on what they found.

The front has been cleared out with the staff desk area known as The Bridge moved back by the liquor section, and new entrance and exit sections with “with low wooden walls and gates” added to channel shoppers into and out of the store. There are new areas for customers to pack their groceries into reusable bags and aisles across the store have reportedly been widened. And, we’re sorry to report, the sample station has been completely removed from the back of the store. Thoughts and prayers. Continue reading

City Council hears proposals for Seattle Police changes, strong public support for #defundSPD during budget deliberations

With reporting by Lena Friedman — CHS Intern

The Seattle City Council continued its inquest into the Seattle Police Department budget Wednesday with organizers outlining suggested cuts and changes that could include overhauling the way the department handles 911 emergency calls and how money should be reinvested into the Black community.

Nearly 45,000 people have signed a petition in line with demands from protesters of systemic racism and police brutality, which include defunding the SPD by 50%, redirecting money into community solutions, and freeing protesters arrested during demonstrations, according to a presentation from Decriminalize Seattle. Four council members, including Kshama Sawant, have indicated support for cutting the SPD budget in half and others have said they support some reductions.

“We’re talking about dramatically changing what it means to create a public safety network,” Teresa Mosqueda, who chairs the council’s budget committee and has said she supports a 50% redirection of the SPD budget, said Wednesday. “We know that this world we are currently working within is not actually creating the health and safety that’s been promised.”

Wednesday, Mosqueda and her council counterparts heard strong support for the defunding efforts during public comment on the deliberations. Massively reducing spending on policing has been at the center of demands during weeks of protests and demonstrations around Seattle in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

The debate over how exactly to #defundSPD will come to a head as the council reshapes the mayor office proposal for changes to the city’s budget in the face of the expected COVID-19 economic crisis. The council is scheduled to hold a final vote on the rebalance on July 20th.

Angélica Cházaro, a law professor at the University of Washington and organizer with Decriminalize Seattle, said cuts to the SPD could come from various aspects of the department, including cutting its training budget, freezing hiring, and reducing patrol staff, among ten specific cuts that could be made. Continue reading

Driver who sped through I-5 protest killing one charged with vehicular homicide

The driver who sped onto a closed I-5 during a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest, killing one and badly injuring another when he raced through the crowd of demonstrators, will be charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving, the King County Prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Dawit Kelete tested sober after he crashed into and killed 24-year-old Summer Taylor and sent 32-year-old Diaz Love to the hospital with serious injuries. The Seattle man remains jailed on $1.2 million bail. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the charges in two weeks.

The charges indicate prosecutors and detectives do not have evidence that Kelete targeted the protest. “Additional charges may be added or amended based on the information that may be sent to our office from the ongoing investigation,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office reads.

Prosecutors say the investigation,is being handled by the Washington State Patrol and the FBI.

CHS reported on the July 4th, 1:30 AM collision after Kelete drove onto the closed freeway in a white Jaguar and sped toward the crowd, careening into Taylor and Love, and trying to race away before being arrested after he was stopped by a car in place to protect the protestors. Continue reading

Summer Taylor remembered

Summer Taylor, right, dancing early Saturday morning on I-5 (Images: @nowah_j)

They died after dancing the Cupid Shuffle on I-5 in the middle of Seattle on a night of protest and energy with friends and loved ones.

Summer Taylor was 24.

The activist and Capitol Hill resident died Saturday as they marched and danced with the nightly Black Femme March for Black Lives Matter. As it had for weeks, the group entered the freeway and brought traffic to a stop to get their message out and make a stand. Continue reading

Capitol Hill and Cal Anderson reopen after CHOP leaving artists and activists wondering what Black Lives Matter promises will be kept

(Image: CHS)

As the physical clean-up of E Pine and Cal Anderson is completed, activists and the communities that formed around the Capitol Hill protest zone have growing doubts about the commitment of Mayor Jenny Durkan and her city department leaders to Black Lives Matter promises big and small made in the wake of the Seattle Police raid and sweep that cleared the area of the occupied protest last week.

An off-the-mark preservation effort Sunday to protect the massive Black Lives Matter mural that stretches along E PIne south of Cal Anderson at the heart of the month-long protest and occupation is a sign, the artists behind it say, of their concerns that the city wants to simply wash away Seattle’s BLM goals even as activists continue to march — and risk their lives — for the cause.

“What happened today is putting a very bad impression on how these things will go,” Takiyah Ward of TDUB CUSTOMS, who said she was speaking as one representative for the 13 artists who worked on the mural, tells CHS.

Sunday morning, Lawrence Pitre, an artist and head of the nonprofit business organization the Central Area Chamber of Commerce, began what he called a citizen-led preservation effort to seal the painted pavement and protect the street-wide BLACK LIVES MATTER letters. Continue reading

Confederate memorial in Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery toppled

Thanks reader Jonathan for the picture

Ten tons of granite hewed from the Georgia mountain birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan has come tumbling down from the top of Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

The controversial monument to Confederate soldiers of the Civil War in the middle of Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery was pulled down apparently Friday or overnight. Witnesses described a scene indicating the huge Stone Mountain granite monument was toppled and dragged until it collapsed. Yellow pull straps were left behind at the scene.

The Independence Day episode echoes with efforts to remove and topple monuments to racist figures and the Confederacy around the country during a wave of Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. States bearing the Confederate “stars and bars” are also grappling with pressure to remove the symbol.

Meanwhile, with the controversial monument toppled, 4th of July also brought a crowd of about 100 chanting and marching right wing protesters and Trump supporters to the area where the Capitol Hill protest zone was cleared earlier this week. Around 1 PM Saturday, the march clashed with groups of counter-protesters near 11th and Pine and video showed a right wing demonstrator spraying his opponents with pepper spray. The group, including some apparently heavily armed participants, was reported marching around the neighborhood and into Volunteer Park.

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Under executive order from mayor, Seattle Police sweep in to retake East Precinct and clear Capitol Hill protest zone — UPDATE

(Image: Katrina Shelby Photography)

Converge Media was broadcasting live from the scene early Wednesday

24 days after clearing the building and evacuating the area following weeks of anti-police protests, the Seattle Police Department swept into the area around the East Precinct early Wednesday and cleared the protest zone that has formed in this core neighborhood of Capitol Hill under an executive order from Mayor Jenny Durkan.

The 30-minute operation created a wide perimeter around the 12th and Pine building with streets cleared of campers and protesters and police reported taking several into custody but meeting little resistance. Meanwhile, a surveillance helicopter circled the neighborhood for hours providing intelligence to the police force on the ground and on the roofs of nearby buildings.

The 10-day order declares “gathering in this area as an ‘unlawful assembly’ and requires immediate action from city agencies, including the Seattle Police Department.

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Seattle City Council debates tax on big business to bridge COVID-19 budget gap as #defundSPD waits in wings

The push for Black Lives Matters and #defundSPD goals beyond 12th and Pine moved back into the Seattle City Council’s chambers Wednesday with the political battles to reshape the city’s budget in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis moved to the next stage overshadowed by SPD’s morning clearance of the protest zone around the East Precinct,

The #defundSPD budget fight is set to shape up as the council’s budget committee digs in on Mayor Jenny Durkan proposal to make $20 million in midyear cuts to the Seattle Police Department budget — about 5% of the department’s $409 million budget.

This week’s debate will be centered on filling the expected massive hit to tax revenues brought about by the COVID-19 crisis as the council works to shape Teresa Mosqueda’s plan for a tax on big businesses to help Seattle overcome its forecasted budget shortfalls due to COVID-19 and to fund affordable housing, equitable development, and economic support for small businesses. The session will include discussion of more than 20 proposed amendments to the proposal. Continue reading

City of Seattle begins removal of Capitol Hill protest zone barriers

Seattle Department of Transportation workers and Seattle Police began the process Tuesday morning of removing the most significant barriers in the streets around the Capitol Hill protest zone but officials promised to leave protections near the East Precinct intact until the area is clear of protesters.

The heavy equipment’s rush followed days of a slower, more deliberate approach to clearing the camp that has been in place for weeks since the emptying of the East Precinct. But even as the cement barriers on E Pine were removed, campers and protesters were looking for new ways to fill the street in efforts they say are necessary to provide protection to the core of tents still surrounding the empty SPD building at 12th and Pine and the remaining but dwindling collection of tens in Cal Anderson. Some of the area’s city-installed portable toilets were also being trucked away.

In an interview with Converge Media, SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe emphasized that the removal work would focus on clearing the streets away from 12th and Pine and not leave the remaining protest camp outside the East Precinct exposed to threats from passing cars.

SPD Chief Carmen Best said Monday there is no current plan for returning police to the East Precinct but that “enough is enough” when it comes to gun violence in the area. A department spokesperson tells CHS officers are in the zone “supporting other agencies.”

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