Photo Essay: 60,000 Silent Protesters Send Loud Message Against Racism

by Elizabeth Turnbull, Chloe Collyer, Carolyn Bick, and Susan Fried

Thousands of protestors waved signs and marched the nearly two miles from Judkins Park to Jefferson Park in South Seattle on Friday. In place of chants of protest, the streets inhabited by the March of Silence were quiet.

Organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, the march composed of an estimated 60,000 protestors, remained silent in order to “honor those lost to police brutality and institutionalized racism, and as a safety precaution against coronavirus,” according to the organization. 

The march began as a socially-distanced gathering in Judkins Park at roughly 1 p.m., where speakers listed off a set of demands including reducing the Seattle Police Department’s budget by at least $100 million, shutting down the new youth detention center in King County, declaring racism a public health crisis and ending cash bail in Washington State, among other things. 

Ebony Miranda, the chair of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, observed that the current protests and events across the world have been a significant period of history.  

“We are on the precipice of a major shift in the fight for Black liberation,” Miranda said. “This is going to be a long fight — we always say this: ‘this is a marathon, not a sprint. ‘We all need to be there at the finish line.” 

In addition to encouraging protestors to advocate for justice beyond coming together in the protest, Miranda encouraged Black protestors to see the march as a safe place to mourn. 

“I want you to take this time for yourselves,” Miranda said. “So often in these times, we’re not given the chance to mourn. To take that time to process our feelings and the trauma of witnessing our people die.”

At roughly 2 p.m., protesters began heading south on 23rd Ave. S,  in the direction of Jefferson Park. While many of the protesters’ signs said “Black Lives Matter,” others were more specific.  “If you think your mask makes it hard to breathe, imagine being black in America,” said one. Others read “LatinX for Black Lives,” and  “Can you hear us now?” 

Many businesses closed in solidarity with the protest after Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County called for a state-wide general strike in tandem with the protest on Friday. The organization encouraged those who were unable to march to “take the day off and spend time familiarizing yourself with elected officials” and advocate for the group’s demands

At some point during the march, Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Carmen Best also joined the protest. 

Thousands gather at Judkins Park to embark on the March of Silence  (Photos by Chloe Collyer)

The movement brought me out today. I believe that Black lives matter and that real systemic change will only happen once people gather in solidarity. It also begins with defunding the police and investing in Black communities and other communities of color. No one should stand for the violence that’s happening right now. and we should all listen to Black people at this time. I think it’s important to show up at this march in particular because it is Black-led and Black organized and it’s important to stand with those communities and show support. -Laura Owens

Silent March from Judkins Park (Photos by Carolyn Bick)

I’m definitely out here to represent and to show we are fighting for the things that are unjust and wrong. Especially against what’s at the forefront right now: police brutality. I just wanted to make sure that my life matters, and the lives of my kids, and my husband. -Latoya Surratt

Silently Marching To Jefferson Park (Photos by Susan Fried )

I like that [the march] was to mourn the people that we’ve lost. I had an uncle that was shot by the police, he was killed when he was 13 years old. So I thought about him. – Ebony Frazier

“I”m here to make sure that people are aware of Breonna Taylor’s story. That her killers are still out there, they have not been arrested and I wanted to meet up with my community to speak out against injustice. Hopefully, a lot of public awareness will come out of this. The injustice that’s going on isn’t new. People shouldn’t get exhausted. This is a marathon that’s just getting started and we’re going to march until we see policy changes start to be implemented.” -Lidet Gezahegne

Featured image by Susan Fried