On Friday, during the annual Black Friday shopping day, more than 300 Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets of downtown Seattle to protest police brutality, institutional racism, and the routine killing of young African Americans by police officers nationwide.
Beginning at Westlake Park, the march meandered around downtown, occupying several intersections, stopping traffic, disrupting Black Friday shopping, and eventually landing at the annual tree lighting ceremony at Westlake Center where marchers chanted slogans such as, “Black lives matter, not Black Friday” and “If we don’t get no justice, then you don’t get no peace.”
At the north entrance to Westlake Center, protesters and police scuffled when demonstrators tried to get inside; The Stranger has footage of the incident where the police pulled a photographer by the hair. Later, another, similar skirmish took place outside Pacific Place Mall. (Protesters did make it into Macy's after pushing past a guard.)
The march eventually crowded back into Westlake Center, where protesters disrupted the holiday concert and tree lighting with chants; they also released a dozen or so balloons with placards reading, “Black Lives Matter” and “Fuck the police."
While tense at times, overall, last Friday’s Black Lives Matter protests remained relatively peaceful; a light fixture at the entrance to Westlake Center was broken.
Unlike last year, the Seattle Police Department allowed protesters to demonstrate within the immediate vicinity of the tree lighting ceremony (after briefly blocking off Westlake at 5th and Pine and telling people to go around) and did not utilize flashbangs or pepper spray in their crowd control tactics. In the days leading up to the Black Friday protest, civil rights advocates called on SPD to protect protesters’ first amendment rights.
The SPD reported four arrests at the end of the day.
Photo essay by Josh Kelety.