Seattle: Hundreds of Protesters Disrupt Business as Usual at Westlake Center Mall

November 29, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Demands for justice for the murder of unarmed Michael Brown are not over after the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, let killer cop Darren Wilson walk free. In Seattle, the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, in coordination with students who have been active around this issue, called for an event that started early on Black Friday afternoon at Westlake Park and continued into the evening. Westlake Park is the main public plaza in Seattle and is where the Occupy movement took place. Looming over it are major department stores and shopping centers, including Westlake Center shopping mall, where Seattle's Christmas tree lighting ceremony was scheduled to take place that evening. It was the busiest shopping day of the year.

Photo: Elliot Stoller

Security guards tried to block the doors but were overcome by more than 200 protesters who strode into Westlake Center carrying signs and chanting while riding the escalators up to the top and down again through the crowds, urging people to join in. They then took the streets, blocking major intersections, going into transit stations, and threading through shopping malls and department stores. Surface traffic came to a halt as die-ins were conducted at major intersections. The Seattle downtown transit tunnel was shut down for an hour, the major Westlake underground transit station was closed for several hours, and other transit stations closed at times. Police trapped some protesters inside the stations as others outside demanded their release.

The Pacific Place Mall has a huge multi-story open atrium, with escalators going up one side and down the other. About 300 protesters crowded in and rode these in a long, solid train, calling and waving to each other across the expanse of the atrium, chanting and singing, and urging the crowds of onlookers, many of whom were supportive, to join in.

Now over 500 strong, the marchers went from Westlake up to Capitol Hall and came back towards Westlake. To stop further impact on Westlake, Seattle police (SPD) blocked the public roadway and, showing who poses the real threat of violence, attacked protesters with flash-bang grenades and chemical spray. The grenades have projectiles that leave wounds and bruises. At least five people were arrested, but others bypassed the barricades and filtered back down to Westlake.

Back at Westlake Center there was a major interruption of and intervention into the Seattle tree-lighting ceremony. Protesters occupied the exclusive VIP banquet area and public address platform for the tree lighting ceremony, and made repeated demands for the voice of justice for Mike Brown to be heard. They held this area until forced out by throngs of the SPD, armed with huge clubs, throwing people around, knocking over tables, and scaring children.

The people were driven downstairs but remained and conducted a huge die-in, lying on the floors, with others around them speaking out. In response to all this, Westlake Center was then closed entirely for the rest of the day. Protesters continued outside under the giant Christmas tree, with chants and many people speaking out for justice and sharing thoughts on how to get justice and how to end police murder.

The protesters were a diverse crowd of many ages and nationalities that included revolutionaries, activists, students, and others who are outraged over the events in Ferguson and elsewhere. People are planning further actions here.

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