Black Lives Matter demonstrators took to the streets in downtown Seattle on Friday to protest. This is the fourth year in a row that such a rally has been held on Black Friday.
Protesters marched peacefully and then gathered at Westlake Center where they linked arms and formed a line in front of several stores.
Chanting things like "black lives matter" and "black lives, not Black Friday", the demonstrators made it more difficult for shoppers to navigate their way in and out of stores. Police officers formed a line between protesters and store fronts, keeping a clear path.
Laura Demarco said she’s been coming to these protests for a long time and said it’s important for shoppers – and the community at large – to hear her message.
“We can’t continue with regular life and regular traditions until there’s justice for black people in America. And we can’t continue to just do our regular routine and shop and spend our money and do what we want to do until the message has spread, until change happens.”
Demarco said she’d consider the protest a success if she’s able to change just one person’s mind.
Another demonstrator, Omar Osman, said he wants to bring attention to brutality against the black community, especially by police.
This was a common focus for protesters. They invoked the name of Charleena Lyles as they stood in front of stores. Lyles, an African-American mother, was fatally shot by Seattle police over the summer.
“I hope people will wake up, people will stop this silence,” Osman said. “I hope people can achieve a point where we can all live freely, not worrying about cops killing us.”
“Our lives matter, black people’s lives matter… We are equal to anyone else, and we deserve life, a better life, than the way we are right now,” he said.
Some shoppers applauded and high-fived protesters, others said they disagreed with the tactics.
Demonstrators maintained their line outside Westlake Center for several hours, breaking to form a tighter circle when onlookers began to arrive for the lighting of Seattle’s holiday tree. They eventually dispersed into several smaller groups and were vastly outnumbered by those who came to see the tree lighting.
Demonstrators continued to chant throughout the tree lighting, competing to be heard over cheers from the crowd, carols and fireworks.