United Gang Members of Seattle organized a march in downtown Seattle to show “solidarity with our brothers and sisters and other black organizations across the nation” fighting police brutality.
United Gang Members of Seattle and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement joined Friday for a march in downtown Seattle to show “solidarity with our brothers and sisters and other black organizations across the nation.”
The march began at Seattle Police Department headquarters downtown and called for police accountability in addressing officer brutality. About 150 people then marched through downtown Seattle.
“This is more than a hashtag, this is more than a moment, this is a movement,” said Sheley Secrest, vice president of the local NAACP chapter.
The march ended at Myrtle Edwards Park, where demonstrators held a moment of silence for those who have died from violence.
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“We are tired of waking up to black men, women, children dead because of violence in your community, or police brutality,” organizers wrote on an event page posted online.
Seattle activist Nikkita Oliver noted during a speech in front of Seattle police headquarters that the march was held on Juneteenth, which commemorates the day slaves in Texas learned they were free.
“The system that has been set up is not about restoration,” Oliver said. “It’s about control and recidivism.”
Organizers obtained a permit for the march, Seattle police spokesman Drew Fowler said. Officers were at the march for “standard public safety.”
Several self-described gang members attended the protest, though speakers emphasized that most were former members. Fowler said having self-identified gang members in attendance doesn’t change how police planned to respond to the march.
“It’s exactly the same as pretty much any permitted march,” Fowler said. “Just because you maybe have a gang affiliation doesn’t erode your right to free speech.”
Organizers encouraged anyone, even those who are not black or gang-affiliated, to attend the march.