The May Day event includes hip-hop performances, food, live-painting and speakers, according to organizers.

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Updated 5:03 p.m.:

An impromptu block party is under way outside the King County Juvenile Detention Center. The “pop-up bloc party” is being staged by a group of music-management and artist-collective to protest the incarceration of marginalized youth and migrants.

Rap artist Bypolar, one of the main organizers of the event, said they have not secured permits from the city but will have lawyers and police liaisons on site to “have a conversation” with any police or city officials who potentially try to shut down the event.

In recent months, activists, including Seattle rapper Macklemore, have put pressure on King County officials over a proposal to build a new youth jail in the Central District. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sent a letter in late January asking the county to reconsider the project’s design, which the county’s judges defended.

Bypolar, a 31-year-old Seattle native, describes himself as an artist and community organizer who opposes construction of a new juvenile detention center — and incarceration of marginalized people. He and other members of High Gods Entertainment, “an art collective for radical change,” set up music equipment outside the south wall of the King County Youth Services Center in hopes that juveniles inside would hear the music and feel supported.

Young people gathered around a smoking charcoal barbecue as hip-hop and street music filled East Spruce Street for what was billed as a pop-up party.

“We’re not for prisons at all. We need to invest that money into our communities,” thereby addressing the underlying causes of crime, Bypolar said. “I’m saying there are other avenues. Prisons aren’t the answer.”

Rap artist Bypolar, one of the main organizers of a “pop-up bloc party” outside the King County Juvenile Detention Center, discusses his event protesting the incarceration of marginalized youth and migrants. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)
Nikkita Oliver addresses the crowd at the “pop-up bloc party” protesting youth incarceration. (Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times)

 


 

May Day 2017

How May Day in Seattle unfolded »

Scenes from the annual March for Workers and Immigrant Rights in Seattle on May Day 2017. (Seattle Times staff)

This story was originally published at 9:55 a.m.:

Add an impromptu block party to the list of unknowns that Seattle police may encounter on May Day as thousands are expected to join marches and rallies throughout the day.

In a vague news release sent early Monday, a group of music-management and artist-collective organizations announced they would host a “pop-up bloc party” at a so-far undisclosed location later in the afternoon as part of the May Day events and to protest the incarceration of marginalized youth and migrants.

The groups plan to release the location of the event about 3:30 p.m., using the hashtag #BlocTheJuvie on social media, according to the release. The event will include hip-hop performances, food, live-painting and speakers, the release reads.

Rap artist Bypolar, one of the main organizers of the event, said they have not secured permits from the city but will have lawyers and police liaisons on site to “have a conversation” with any police or city officials who potentially try to shut down the event.

“A permit is not required to practice  your freedom of speech,” Bypolar said in a phone interview. “We’re not doing anything that is particularly special.

“We do not believe in the validation of the state. They’re the problem in the first place.”

In recent months, activists, including Seattle rapper Macklemore, have put pressure on King County officials over a proposal to build a new youth jail in the Central District. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sent a letter in late January asking the county to reconsider the project’s design, which the county’s judges defended.

Bypolar said the organizers have been planning some kind of demonstration since October and eventually agreed on delaying the event until May Day. He said protesting youth incarceration has a direct connection to the larger May Day theme of labor struggle.

“Once people get into the (criminal justice) system, it’s so hard to get out,” Bypolar said.

According to the news release, High Godz Entertainment, Ending the Prison Industrial Complex and the Northwest Detention Center Resistance are among the main organizations and artist collectives hosting the event.

“Youth and children are target by the police to be derailed into the prison system of means of becoming an unrecognized exploited prison labor workforce,” the release reads.

“As a community we demand alternatives to incarceration that are centered in the experiences of the most marginalized youth, migrants, and artists,” it adds.