From 1pm until 6pm today, about 200 protesters marched around downtown and Capitol Hill in Seattle. Trying to disrupt the Black Friday shopping spree in order to attract attention to racist policing, the crowd shut down traffic on streets as they moved through them and ultimately managed to “shut down” festivities at Westlake Center mall. At least one man was arrested, and during a tense standoff above I-5 police deployed flash-bang grenades.
You can see a play-by-play on my Twitter feed.
The march was one in a series that have erupted after news on Monday that Darren Wilson, a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri who shot to death unarmed black teen Michael Brown, will not face charges for Brown’s death. (See Ezra Klein’s take on what actually happened here and here.) In the months since Brown’s death the case has become a national symbol for institutional racism in policing.
UPDATE 11/29/14: You can read Seattle Police Department’s account of the protest here. It’s mostly accurate, though it does mislead on a few key points. For instance, it says that protesters “jabbed” at police with umbrellas at Pine/Boren; at the front of the line, I saw police grab at umbrellas that protesters were holding up as shields against possible pepper spray, before shoving the crowd back with bicycles and flash-bang grenades. (It’s possible that there was jabbing elsewhere along the line, but the straightforward ‘aggressive protester/defensive police’ in SPD’s account is simplistic at best.) Similarly, the claim that protesters “indiscriminately launched fireworks into the crowd” doesn’t jive with what I saw, which was protesters discriminately firing (small) fireworks at or near the band that was playing on the balcony overhead. Finally, the SPD account weirdly omits the fact that protesters succeeded in stopping the Black Friday musical performances at Westlake Mall.
UPDATE 11/30/14: Here’s a photo by Josh Kelety of the umbrella-grabbing I described above. (I was standing right next to him when he took it.)