Originally published on PubliCola.
Last night, hundreds of Seattleites shut down city streets and, briefly, the northbound I-5 highway. Their complaint? That Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot teenager Michael Brown to death in August in Ferguson, Missouri, will not be tried for the shooting. Brown’s death has become to many a symbol of police racism, and the news that Wilson will not face a trial appears to many to confirm their worst suspicions about croneyism among police and governments.
The mostly peaceful march lasted for more than six hours and ranged across downtown, Capitol Hill, and the Central District. Chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot,” protesters several times knelt before police with their hands raised—a reference to the widespread belief that Brown’s hands were raised when Wilson shot him.
The most violent confrontation occurred when marchers tried to enter the I-5 highway: police used pepper spray, flash bang grenades, and coordinated bicycle-shoving to beat back the crowd. Protesters blinded by the chemical spray could be seen clawing their way back from the front of the march toward street medics standing by with irrigating solution. At least one man was grabbed and dogpiled on by police. A few dozen marchers later did make it onto the highway; at least three were apprehended, and then released, by police.
“The police were actually pretty nice,” said Evana Enabulele, one of the apprehended protesters. …They said, ‘We’re not going to arrest you, we don’t want you to die on the highway’…They just let us go…They didn’t arrest us because we weren’t running away.”
A demand for justice was a common theme among protesters. “I think it’s important to show solidarity around events in the community,” said Alexandra Eberle, a 30 year old worker’s compensation adjuster. “One person doesn’t seem like it would make a difference, but it’s all I can do.”
Ain Mulindwa, a 25 year old cosmetologist, said she was marching “because we need justice for black people.”
“It’s time for a revolution,” she added.