Last year, after the murder of George Floyd, thousands of West Seattleites demonstrated for racial justice.
But after a few big events – and the Everyday March visits to local elected officials – the peninsula protests ebbed.
Except for the corner of 16th and Holden:
That’s where Scott (below left) has led twice-weekly BLM-supporting sign-waving for most of the past year, on through fall, winter, and now another spring.
Even before the verdict was announced, he and others were planning to be there this afternoon/evening as usual – Tuesdays (and Thursdays), 4-6 pm. So we stopped by. “This is a long-term struggle,” Scott said. Some days he’s had just a few join him; today, about a dozen. He said the Minneapolis verdict brought “a huge sense of relief (but) still a lot of pain … it’s all we can hope for, but it’s not really justice.”
We talked with some of those who also were at 16th/Holden today, a few hours after the verdict. Ed said the case left him disgusted “at the callous disregard for human life.” Adrian was “relieved to the point of tears” when the verdict was read.
Lisa, who says she did cry, also observed, “the fact that we could have believed it might have gone either way says more about racism than that Chauvin got convicted, that you could watch the video and have doubts that he would be found guilty.”
They all agreed there’s a lot of work to do. Rob said, “Awareness needs to continue – people are still dying.” And they saw the need for that awareness even on the street as they stood on the corners with their signs. “Still got a thumbs down today – someone still committed to hatred … we just hope they don’t pass it on to their children.”
The verdict itself was a teachable moment. At the time, Dani was teaching her elementary-school class, “and talking to the kids in class about it as it happened.”
What now? Adrian suggests that “police need some tool to weed out racism and white supremacy.” Scott envisions “relying less on policing” and points to the “participatory budgeting” process going on at the city (which was in fact on the agenda for a council committee this afternoon).
From Dani, an invitation: “Come out and stand with us – the work is ongoing.”