Hundreds Join Black Lives Matter Protest in Seattle; Four Arrested | KUOW News and Information

Hundreds Join Black Lives Matter Protest in Seattle; Four Arrested

Nov 29, 2015

Hundreds of mostly peaceful protesters in downtown Seattle tried to turn the frenzied day of shopping known as Black Friday into Black Lives Matter Day.

Before the protest, activists said they wanted to disrupt commerce to bring attention to unjust policing and institutional racism.

Protesters blocked traffic and demonstrated inside a few stores before being moved out.

Hundreds of protesters marched and chanted near Westlake Plaza, the site of Friday evening's annual Christmas tree lighting. They carried signs decrying racism and police brutality. Other signs showed the names and faces of black people killed recently by police nationwide.

Meanwhile, thousands of downtown shoppers ensured that this Black Friday remained a busy one for stores in and around Westlake Plaza.

Four protesters were arrested, and some shopping mall entrances were temporarily blocked by protesters or by police trying to keep them out. Seattle Police said one officer dislocated his shoulder when a crowd interfered with an arrest at the Pacific Place mall.

I have a 5-year-old son who deserves the same rights in this country as his white cousin.

For about half an hour, protesters blocked a Pine Street entrance to Pacific Place. Seattle Police rushed to the scene on their bicycles, repeatedly and forcefully shouting, "move back!" at pedestrians on the sidewalk as they rolled toward the entrance.

Once in place, a line of police stood silently in front of the mall's doors as protesters chanted, "Racist police have got to go."

Before long, the tense scene gave way to a less-confrontational demonstration.

One woman holding a bullhorn told protesters, quietly, to hide their signs and disperse before finding their way to the Christmas tree a block away. Police were trying to keep protesters away, she said.

Protesters made their way into the crowd gathered by the tree and stage set up in Westlake Plaza. Their chants competed with the music on stage. Protesters took selfies with their signs, as did shoppers and families who brought their kids to sit on Santa's lap or see the 65-foot Christmas tree lit up.

"I have a 5-year-old son who deserves the same rights in this country as his white cousin, and I don't feel like that's currently the case," protester Angel Mitchell from Seattle said. "I'm really afraid for my son, and I feel like more people need to know the disparities in this country that are directly tied to race."

A circle of protesters listens to speeches at Westlake Plaza Friday night in Seattle.
Credit KUOW Photo/John Ryan

    

"It's kind of not necessary for the holidays," Jamie Young of Kent said of the protest. Like Mitchell, Young is black. She brought her niece and daughter to Westlake Plaza for the tree-lighting ceremony.

"It's supposed to be family time, and it's kind of ruining the scene, the moment," she said.

Young said she supports the Black Lives Matters protesters' cause.

"I just wish it could be done on a different day," she said.

A blonde woman carrying shopping bags from Forever 21 and the Cheesecake Factory said, "that's so annoying," as she and her companion had to detour around a dense crowd of protesters on Pine Street.

One of the protesters' most frequently repeated chants: "Black lives matter, not Black Friday."