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caption: The two Omari Salisburys, father and son.
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The two Omari Salisburys, father and son.
Credit: Courtesy of Omari Salisbury

A journalist and his son on running from tear gas, and why the protests are personal

This conversation is part of our Beyond the Protest series, led by people involved in the struggle for social justice, from different generations and viewpoints, from protesters to police.

Home from college this summer, Omari Salisbury never thought he’d get pepper sprayed by police. He never thought he’d see a cop car set on fire right next to him.

“I never thought I would have two guys dressed up as superheroes come up to me and try to get me, like, special milk mixtures to help with my burning eyes,” Salisbury said.

caption: The younger Omari Salisbury at a Seattle protest
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The younger Omari Salisbury at a Seattle protest
Credit: Courtesy of Omari Salisbury

But Salisbury was at work with his dad, helping to cover the protests.

Salisbury’s father is an independent journalist who’s also named Omari Salisbury, but tends to go by the name Big O. He covered the daily protests in Seattle for his company, Converge Media, and received international media attention as he documented the ongoing struggle and demands to end police violence.

caption: Journalist Omari Salisbury uses his phone to livestream  coverage of the Seattle protests for his company, Converge Media.
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Journalist Omari Salisbury uses his phone to livestream coverage of the Seattle protests for his company, Converge Media.
Credit: Courtesy of Jake Gravbrot

“I’d like these police protests to be a real change for us,” the younger Salisbury said. “I’m tired of seeing people suffering. This terrible treatment of people needs to stop at all levels.”

He is studying journalism at Loyola University Chicago, and said his dad’s work through the years inspired him to pursue this career. Big O spent much of his early career in Africa and the Middle East, and sometimes took his son overseas with him.

caption: Omari and Omari Salisbury, ready to fly.
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Omari and Omari Salisbury, ready to fly.
Credit: Courtesy of Omari Salisbury

“I mean if people think this is a big deal what I’m doing, wait until you see my son who’s actually going and learning these things at college,” Big O said. “All these years I’ve had to burn my hands to try to figure this out and that out, but my son — wait until you see this guy,” Big O said. “Watch out world.”

Father and son recorded this conversation for KUOW's Beyond the Protest series. To suggest someone for a conversation in this series, email us at engage@kuow.org.