On Jan. 10, several hundred protesters marched from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park to the King County Youth Detention Center on 12th and Alder in a call for police accountability. The march was organized by a local activist group called Women of Color for Systematic Change, and it occurred without any arrests, property damage or other incidents. The protesters occupied several intersections along Rainier Avenue South and elsewhere, where individuals used bullhorns to speak out on issues such as gentrification in Seattle and police brutality.
This protest was the latest in a recent string of similar acts of civil disobedience that have occurred both in Seattle and across the nation in the wake of a grand jury ruling in Ferguson, Mo., not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. The 18-year-old was unarmed at the time of his death. Since the November 2014 ruling, numerous instances of police officers killing unarmed black men or youth have occurred, such as the November shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland and the July 2014 strangulation death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, sparking a national discussion on police brutality and racism in America.
At the most recent local protest, many spoke out about institutional racism in Seattle, specifically how rising living costs and gentrification are pushing communities of color south and further segregating an already predominately white city.
“My apartment [in the Central District] went from 800 to 1100 [dollars] per month. I’m moving to Federal Way where they [white Seattle] want me,” said one protester outside of the King County Youth Detention Center.
Others condemned the proposed construction of a new $210 million “youth and family justice center” to replace the current youth detention center. They citied how youth of color make up a disproportionate number of incarcerated youth or in the juvenile justice system.