If anyone still wondered where you, the commuter or tourist or downtown worker or even freeway user, ranked in the City of Seattle’s mind, you got the final answer on Friday. You don’t matter.
Seven protesters upset over the proposed $210 million King County juvenile justice center linked arms and blocked traffic outside the King County Building at Fourth Ave. and James St. They showed up just before 8 a.m. and exercised their Constitutional right to take to the streets and protest. I support their right to protest, but I do not agree with the City of Seattle or its police department’s lack of response. I immediately reached out to Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Department of Transportation to get their plan for the protest. I did not get a response.
Here’s how it played out. The seven protesters, with locked arms and several “protectors” simply lied down in the middle of Fourth Avenue. Within minutes, Fourth Avenue was backed up a mile-and-a-half well into SoDo. Buses were stopped and riders were forced to get out and walk. One woman told KING 5 that she was forced to limp up the hill to an appointment at Haborview Medical Center.
Another woman actually inched through the fringes of the group as protesters jumped on her car. Eventually, the protest backed up both directions of I-5 and westbound I-90. The Washington State Patrol was forced to close at least one downtown exit. Access to Harborview was more than difficult. The group left Fourth Ave. and James Street at about 10:45 a.m. and marched up to Fifth and Stewart where they camped out again.
When Seattle Police finally got around to talking about the protest — about three and a half hours after it started — KIRO Radio was told, “The main goal here is to ensure that the people in the middle of the street are safe.”
And to the tens of thousands of people who had their days ruined by this, the people who were stuck for hours trying to get around, what does SPD think of your rights? “Yeah, you’re going to be stuck in traffic sometimes.”
That is Seattle in a nutshell. The needs of the seven outweigh the needs of the thousands. Drivers, bus riders, downtown workers, people in town for the Pac-12 women’s tournament, people here for Emerald City Comicon, people just driving through, you don’t matter. Actions speak louder than words and today Seattle couldn’t have been clearer.