May Day is a historic and celebrated day for Seattle to honor its labor movement. This May 1, at Volunteer Park, a few runners and dog walkers passed by a group of “Black Bloc” protesters carrying handmade signs and East African flags. Black Bloc, the term used to describe the black-clad protesters usually associated with anti-capitalist, anarchist movements, was defined by one park-goer as “people who just want to smash something,” but the sincerity of their cause on Saturday was clear: They were there to protest the genocide taking place in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Whether you call it a civil war, ethnic repression, or genocide, it’s clear people are suffering. Millions of Tigrayans have lost their jobs, faced violence and drone strikes, or been thrown out of refugee camps by the Ethiopian government and simply scattered across the countryside. First-hand reports describe sexual violence being used as a daily weapon of war. International aid has been cut off. It is, by all accounts, a nightmare.
Around 150 people marched from the Central District to downtown on Saturday, May 1, as part of El Comité’s annual May Day or International Workers’ Day march. It was one of the smallest turnouts in two decades, but the spirit of the protesters was undeterred as they walked on behalf of immigrant and workers rights. On their way, attendees passed through Chinatown-International District where JM Wong, co-founder of Massage Parlor Outreach Project, spoke out against the recent rise in hate and violence against Asian Americans. Other speakers included Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos.
This year’s Trabaiadorxs Esenciales y Excluidxs (Essential and Excluded Workers) march highlighted the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on vulnerable and essential workers. “2020 became a major challenge for workers,” reads the event listing on El Comité’s website. “As a result of the virus, thousands of businesses closed, some forever. Millions of workers were furloughed or lost their jobs. Many lives were thrown into a world of unemployment, poverty, compounding rental debt, and homelessness.” Protesters also marched for immigration reform, equitable vaccine access, cancelling rent debt and evictions, and solidarity against police brutality, white supremacy, and systemic racism.
What was supposed to be part of a nationwide “White Lives Matter” protest at Westlake Center on April 11 turned out to be a “Picket against white supremacy!” Organized by local community groups, the event was attended by close to 100 people who were there to “stand up to racists and fascists.” The Seattle “White Lives Matter” non-event mirrored other planned rallies across the country — NBC News reported that the rallies, which were hyped up by organizers as events that would make “the whole world tremble,” ended up being busts when the turn-out on Sunday was much lower than organizers had anticipated.
For the second time this month, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and their allies gathered at Hing Hay Park in Chinatown-International District (CID) to protest the rise in anti-Asian hate in Seattle and across the U.S. This time, protesters came together in response to the Atlanta shootings on Tuesday which took the lives of eight people, six of whom were Asian women: Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. Delaina Ashley Yaun and Paul Andre Michels were also killed in the shooting. Saturday’s midday rally at Hing Hay Park, “Kids vs. Racism,” was organized by 10-year-old Seneca Nguyễn (Tia Nguyen), a fifth grader at Louisa Boren STEM K-8. Nguyen wanted to take a stand by organizing and amplifying a youth message against hate. He felt it was important to hold the protest in the CID. Dozens of children, youth, and young people were in attendance.
Hundreds showed up for a community organized rally and march “We Are Not Silent” in Hing Hay Park this weekend, on Saturday, March 13. Protestors gathered to condemn the recent spike in anti-Asian violence nationwide, including the assault of Noriko Nasu, a Japanese language high school teacher, last month in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District (CID). The crowd listened to heartfelt words from youth speakers, community leaders and elders, former and currently elected officials, before marching through the CID to Little Saigon and back to Hing Hay Park.
Over a week after Dolal Idd was fatally shot by police in Minneapolis, roughly 150 people gathered in front of the Tukwila Library on Sunday, Jan. 10, to honor the Somali American man’s life and to call for systemic change.
Many speakers mourned the loss of another Black life and spoke to the need for nationwide action on policing. Shukri Olow, a candidate for King County Council District 5, which encompasses some of South Seattle, spoke as a member of the Somali-Muslim community and as a mother herself.
“When I heard about what happened to Dolal, I couldn’t help but feel the pain of his mother, who ran away from the civil war to find a safe environment for her children,” Olow said. “I want you to think about fleeing a conflict … coming to safe shores only to have your child killed by a system that you do not understand, a system that does not see our humanity.”
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).
An older man whom neighbors say is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder is said to be recuperating at home, after a Seattle Police Department officer pepper sprayed and then pulled him to the ground, during a protest in Capitol Hill on the evening of Nov. 27. Posts on Twitter say that the man was trying to speak to the officers about how their actions and use of a loudspeaker were triggering for him.
One of the man’s neighbors, who declined to be identified by name when the Emerald later spoke with him, caught the incident on video, and posted it online shortly after. Though the video is marked as Nov. 29, someone else made the Emerald aware that this actually happened on Nov. 27. The video, which the Emerald has included below, shows the older man interacting with a Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer, who is pushing him backwards. The older man is carrying what appears to be a collapsible cane.
A young man is on a ventilator at Harborview Medical Center, following his arrest for alleged property damage outside the East Precinct, during a protest in support of voting rights and against systemic racism in Capitol Hill on Nov. 4, 2020. The Emerald briefly touched on the incident in a story published yesterday, but misidentified the person as woman, based on the immediately available information.
The young man has since been identified as 30-year-old Kel Murphy-Duford, according to a Converge Media interview shared in full with the Emerald. In this same interview, Murphy-Duford’s lawyers said that multiple protestors who don’t know each other told them they saw officers “tackle and throw” Murphy-Duford to the ground, and that at least five officers “jumped” on top of Murphy-Duford, as he was lying unconscious on the ground. Bodyworn video released by the Seattle Police Department appears to show Murphy-Duford unresponsive, after the officers arrest him.
Emergency personnel told Murphy-Duford’s husband that he had a seizure and was suffering from “low oxygen” — but Murphy-Duford does not have a history of seizures, said a source who knows the man. It is also unclear whether or not Murphy-Duford was responsive the entire time officers were arresting him.
SPD later revised their SPD Blotter entry about the arrest to claim that Murphy-Duford’s alleged seizure was “potentially related to a substance the subject had ingested prior to police contact,” but his lawyers told the Emerald in an email that “[n]o one has released ANY medical information to [the Force Investigation Team (FIT)] or SPD. Doctors have not indicated at any point that there is any ‘substance’ responsible for our client’s condition.”