Past and present fused on Jan. 19, when thousands of people took to the streets in an MLK Day March that honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and echoed with the current call to action, “Black lives matter.”
The march began at noon at Garfield High School, where the crowd — composed of black and white people, Latinos and Native Americans; adults and schoolchildren, senior citizens and parents with newborns — spilled onto East Jefferson Street. Some carried signs that read “No New Children’s Jail,” a reference to the planned renovation of the King County Juvenile Detention Center; others chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot,” a rallying cry that highlights the recent deaths, at the hands of police, of unarmed black men and youth. Bystanders filmed the throng on smartphones.
The march wound through the Central District, passed Yesler Terrace (site of recent protests against a now sidelined rent-hike proposal) and looped into downtown. At the intersection of Fifth and Cherry, between Seattle City Hall and Seattle Police Department Headquarters the crowd called “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” As their calls reverberated, the sun, obscured by gray clouds till that point, broke through.
Down Fourth Avenue, the march continued. Marchers convened at Seventh and Stewart, in front of the federal courthouse, the last few people arriving at close to 2 p.m. A few people hugged while, nearby, placards and signs waved in the air.