Friday saw over 60,000 people take to the streets in Seattle as a part of a Silent March organized by Black Lives Matter. People walked silently from Judkins Park, up Beacon Hill and the march concluded at Jefferson Park.
This silent protest is significant because the Seattle chapter of BLM is suing mayor Jenny Durkan and city police chief Carmen Best after police recently used excessive force, tear gas and even chemical weapons against protesters. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Washington, Korematsu Center at Seattle University School of Law and the law firm Perkins Coie filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County.
Mayor Durkan and police chief Best have since apologized, but the protest aims to address the wider issues related to systemic racism and police brutality.
On the subject of defunding the police BLM has a well thought out list of demands that actually appears to be easily actionable. According to the list on BLM Seattle’s official website:
“The city must divest at least $100 million from the police budget, with an emphasis on divesting from militarization. We call for:
- A renegotiated police union contract with a focus on community oversight and accountability for officers regardless of seniority.
- A community-selected director of the Office of Police Accountability by 2021.
- De-escalation training for individual officers and specialized teams—de-escalation should be the default for every police interaction.
- An independent body to investigate all allegations of misconduct and police brutality, not only those that result in death.
- Mental health care for officers.
- Demilitarization of the Seattle Police Department; SPD must relieve itself of the military surplus and refuse to purchase or accept additional military equipment.
- A shift of funding from police budgets into community services and community capital, resulting in a smaller force and more civilian jobs.”
The complete list of demands and proposed solutions may be read here.
BLM Seattle further elaborated upon why the march was necessary in a twitter thread:
Here are a few sights and sounds captured and shared by Tweeple who attended the march today:
Mayor Durkan also joined the protest.
Some organizations even gave their employees the day off to join the unique protest.
After the protest BLM also got together volunteers for a clean-up drive.