Video by Aaron Allen/The Seattle Medium
By The Seattle Medium Staff
Thousands of people turned out Friday afternnon to Judkins Park in Seattle’s Central area for Black Lives Matter Seattle King County’s March of Silence.
The March — which started at Judkins Park and proceeded up 23rd Avenue to Spokane Street and concluded at Jefferson Park on Beacon Hill — was organized to honor lost lives and to demand an end to the institutional racism that “pervades policing, justice and education systems in Washington and across the United States,” drew a very diverse group of participants who were undeterred by the rainy weather.
During the rally before the march, organizers announced their calls to action, which included renegotiating police union contracts, closing King County’s new youth jail, equitable and full funding for school districts across the state, the establishment of an independent body to investigate all allegations of misconduct and police brutality, putting an end to the school-to-prison pipeline, and moving police funding to address health and housing inequities.
“We demand that racism be declared a public health crisis in Washington state,” Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County (BLM) said in a statement. “We demand that crisis be addressed through seismic change in policing, community wellness, justice, youth justice and education.”
The march was planned as a silent event to honor those killed by police brutality and institutionalized racism. Additionally, according to BLM, the silence was intended to help mitigate the risk of spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus, which disproportionately affects Black people and other people of color.
“Some folks have asked why Black Lives Matter requested people participate in the March of Silence procession by separate groups, such as Black youth, People of Color, White allies,” said BLM in a statement. “People want to be with their loved ones, regardless of race, or political views. And we want families to be together. We love and support each other. We also recognize that even though we all love each other, we do not all have the same experiences living here in Seattle, King County, in Washington, and in the United States—or dying here. We need to acknowledge that. The March of Silence honors our love and support for each other, and recognizes that we all have so much work to do, moving forward together, in solidarity.”
Similar marches were scheduled to take place in more than 30 cities across the state, and businesses and community organizations across the state announced their plans to close for the day in solidarity. Thousands of people who were unable to attend were expected to participate in a general strike, watch the march online, and take actions such as contacting City, county and state leaders.
In recent weeks, BLM has seen an outpouring of community support, including financial donations. At the March, BLM announced that it will donate funds contributed to the march and general strike to organizations serving the Black community, including: The King County Equity Now Coalition, a cadre of long-standing, accountable Black-led community organizations in King County; Lavender Rights Project, which provides low-cost civil legal services and community programming centered in values of social justice for trans and queer low-income people and other marginalized communities; Black Trans Task Force, which engages in community building, research and political action addressing the crisis of violence against Black Trans people, The Seattle Medium newspaper; South Seattle Emerald, and KRIZ Radio (1420 AM, Renton/Seattle).
The march itself was described as “silent but powerful” by one participant.
“I’m very impressed and very supportive of Black Lives Matter,” said Ronald Jones of Seattle, who participated in the March. “I’ve been to a few of the recent protests [in Seattle], but this one, this one here gave me chills.”
“Marching in silence really gave me a chance to reflect on why I was here, my personal priorities, and what I, what we, can do to stop the killing of Black men by police,” concluded Jones.
Pictorial Highlights of the Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County March of Silence