The protesters said Monday’s “lockdown” marks the beginning of what they’re calling a “People’s Moratorium” to shut down construction of a new King County youth jail.
More than 100 people protesting construction of a new youth jail in Seattle formed human blockades at the building site Monday in an effort to stop the project.
The protesters — members of a group calling itself the No New Youth Jail coalition — said the “lockdown” marks the beginning of what they’re calling a “People’s Moratorium” to shut down the King County project for good.
“It’s been six years of community struggle in trying to say no to this project. Today is just one day in that fight,” said Andrea Marcos, a spokeswoman for the protesters. “If (King County Executive) Dow (Constantine) won’t stop this project, we will.”
Despite their actions, construction at the Children and Family Justice Center site continued Monday.
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Marcos said protesters successfully turned away several deliveries of construction materials to the site, however.
Jail opponents last week delivered a letter to Constantine’s office, asking that the project be halted.
Representatives for the executive’s office were on hand Monday at the construction site on East Alder Street between 12th and 14th avenues to talk with members of the protest group.
Constantine released a statement Monday afternoon in which he invited those interested in youth juvenile justice to join in a “full dialogue” with King County on the issue.
“I do not believe keeping kids in the current decrepit and disrespectful facility is the right solution,” the statement said. “Moving young people to adult jail also takes us in the wrong direction. In fact, I issued an Executive Order directing that all young people charged as adults be moved to the juvenile facility so that they can receive more age-appropriate services and programming.”
Constantine previously has said that he is committed to reducing youth detention, noting that the new jail would offer an expanded space for supportive programs to connect more “youth and families to community-based services.”
Seattle police monitored the protest throughout Monday; no arrests had been made as of noon.
Another youth-jail protest blocked several intersections in downtown Seattle for about six hours on March 2.