On Saturday morning, June 12, around 250 protestors rallied on Harbor Island to block the Port of Seattle from unloading cargo from an Israeli shipping company’s vessel, the ZIM San Diego. Gathering at 5:30 a.m., protestors marched to the entrance of Terminal 18 and blocked the road, disrupting traffic for about an hour.
After an hour, protestors declared victory after hearing from sources within the longshore workers’ union that the ship would not be worked on that day.
Organizers are targeting ZIM as part of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) for its role in supporting the state of Israel. The company, once owned by the state, is now a publicly traded corporation and is the tenth largest shipping company in the world.
The BDS movement aims to isolate the state of Israel and complicit corporations economically and politically until it upholds equal rights for the Palestinian citizens of Israel, ends the military occupation Palestine and the siege of Gaza, and guarantees the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced from their homes. ZIM, along with a number of other companies, is on the boycott list.
When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020, Tyrone Brown was in Lesotho, an independent country of 2 million people completely surrounded by South Africa. As a volunteer for the Peace Corps, he was teaching English, life skills, and HIV/AIDS prevention to Lesotho elementary school students. But the Peace Corps decided to withdraw all their volunteers worldwide and send them home.
Born and raised in Seattle, Tyrone Brown, the founder and artistic director of Brownbox Theatre, credits his mother for introducing him to the arts when he was very young. Brown feels Seattle gave him more freedom and exposure to the arts that he wouldn’t have received, especially as a young Black male, had he grown up somewhere else. Still, being involved in the arts in a single-parent family had its challenges.
“I remember I was in the Northwest Boys Choir for a short period of time. I don’t remember a lot about the experience except for one thing. We had a big concert that was happening in downtown Seattle. And my mom couldn’t get me there. She said, ‘I don’t have money for bus fare. So you’re going to have to call somebody.’ It was a predominately white institution, a group of white boys basically. And I didn’t know those kids, who came from two-parent homes and had money. I was just so embarrassed.”
The recent rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) nationally has galvanized community organizers, old and new, to take a stand for justice. History shows us that such hate-fueled violence is not new in any way, and activist legacies left by the likes of Seattle’s Chinatown-International District’s (CID) Donnie Chin continue to inspire the next generation of young AAPIs to organize and protect those most targeted and vulnerable in our neighborhoods.
Donnie Chin was a respected Seattle Asian American activist and organizer. Chin left his impact on the CID community through the establishment of the International District Emergency Center (IDEC), which started in 1968 as the Asians for Unity Emergency Squad. He was inspired by the Black Panther Party to support the CID community with a block watch patrol, free emergency medical services, de-escalation, substance-abuse and mental health check-ins that city departments failed to provide.
“Donnie Chin was a selfless defender of this Chinatown-International District community,” said Robert Fisher, Collections Manager at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. “He spent his entire life helping others and the community. His daily presence is missed even more today.”
One-quarter of the entire 2020 Seattle city budget was allocated to the Seattle Police Department (SPD). While last summer’s protests over anti-Black police violence and calls to defund the police resulted in an 18% decrease in the 2021 SPD budget, $364 million was still allocated to SPD. This is an affront to community-led organizations like King County Equity Now (KCEN) and so many others who have been providing much-needed community support and succeeding in creating real public safety.
KCEN, which started as an informal coalition of over 60 Black-led community organizations like Africatown Community Landtrust, Community Passageways, and Blaq Elephant Party, is now a formal, pro-Black 501(c)(4) dedicated to achieving equity for all Black peoples across all measurable metrics, including, wealth, health, land ownership, safety, college matriculation rates, organizational control, and more.
In the ’70s, the Central District’s population was 75% Black, but as a result of Seattle’s tech boom and resulting gentrification, the CD is now only 15% Black.
“My family was gentrified from the Central District in 2003,” said TraeAnna Holiday, an organizer with KCEN. “I remember wondering why my family couldn’t stay in our neighborhood. This was our neighborhood; I knew it in and out.”
Mutual aid practitioners who have long worked with homeless individuals have called on the Seattle City Council to disavow We Heart Seattle (WHS), a volunteer group that removes trash from homeless encampments across the city. WHS’s critics insist the group has illegally removed belongings, focused more on cleaning up sites rather than the welfare of unsheltered residents, and used inappropriate tactics to remove people experiencing homelessness from public spaces.
“I never started being an activist — it was always a part of me.” While only sixteen years old, Mia Dabney has made some impressive waves in the Seattle community. A junior at Cleveland STEM High School in Beacon Hill, she is both a prominent figure in the school community and in the larger area for her social activism.
On Sunday morning, December 13, the Sikh Student Association at UW and Blacklisted Since ‘84 organized an event and march at the Space Needle in downtown Seattle. Nearly 250 people gathered for speeches given in Hindi and English to educate and bring attention to three new farm bills recently approved by both houses of the Indian Parliament and approved by President Narendra Singh Tomar. The three agriculture bills have stirred protests throughout India and around the world. Opponents of the bill believe these new laws are “pro corporate farming” and against small farmers who are the backbone of Indian culture. Speakers included International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
They’re calling it “Campfire Stories,” and the event will shed light on some of Seattle’s most innovative and ambitious leaders working toward a sustainable and equitable future.
On Tuesday December 8 at 6 p.m. Sustainable Seattle (S2) will host its eleventh Sustainability Leadership Awards, where it will recognize and celebrate the efforts of local experts, organizers, and organizations that have produced exceptional sustainability work in the past year. This year, the free event will take place online. Virtual doors will open at 5:45 p.m. and the event will commence shortly after.
Since 1991, S2 has worked to guide initiatives, create events, assemble a diverse range of community members, and spread awareness from around the Seattle area to activate a world that is safe, accessible, and enduring for all.
In the 2020 presidential election, Trump won the second-highest number of votes by any U.S. presidential candidate in history. Though he still ended up losing the race, this number is nothing to sneeze at. I heard a general outcry of surprise and shock at these statistics, at how close this country was to a second Trump term, particularly from my white progressive liberal peers here in Seattle.
On Monday night, the cold streets surrounding Westlake Park transformed into an echo chamber of drum beats, footsteps, and chants of “No good cops in a racist system! No bad protesters in a revolution!” as roughly 500 protesters marched to where the protests began in Seattle roughly 150 days before.
After an anticipatory drumroll, several protesters stood up on the park’s stage and unfurled a banner that read, “You Can’t Stop This Revolution” on one side and “Montgomery Bus Boycott: 381 Days, Seattle BLM Protests: 150 Days” on the other.