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Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County clarifies involvement in protests

Demonstrators listen during a gathering in Bellevue. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County issued a statement Wednesday, commenting on protests that have taken place in the region over the last five days.

Photos from Tuesday’s protest in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood

BLM Seattle-King County noted that it “has had no role in any of the protests that have occurred in the greater Seattle area,” while pointing out that it had urged its community members not to participate over concerns related to COVID-19.

“Our board of directors was initially conflicted about whether to boost these demonstrations, as your safety is of utmost importance,” the organization detailed in a written statement. “Ultimately, we decided that the situation is too dangerous for us to encourage greater attendance at these in-person protests.

“To clarify, Black Lives Matter Seattle King County is not involved in the coordination or planning of any public, in-person gatherings, meetings, or protests,” it added.

BLM Seattle King County is one of at least two groups that operates in the region under the “Black Lives Matter” moniker. That being so, neither that group, nor one that identifies itself as “Black Lives Matter Seattle Original” on Facebook have claimed affiliation with recent protests.

This comes after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told protesters downtown Tuesday that she had spoken recently to organizers in the local black community. At this point, though, it’s unclear who exactly those meetings were with.

“Anyone representing themselves as Black Lives Matter Seattle to the Mayor, or the Chief of police during this past week has done so without our knowledge or consent — we do not know who those people are and they do not represent Black Lives Matter Seattle,” its statement continued.

BLM Seattle-King County did say that it is working to schedule meetings with Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Senator Patty Murray, and would like to speak with King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, Rep. Adam Smith, and Gov. Jay Inslee.

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The organization also expressed its support for “calls for action in response to the murder of George Floyd and other recent victims of police brutality.”

“We’re hurting, frustrated, scared, and enraged just like you,” it stated. “We understand the need to be together, to collectively mourn and rage.”

While again urging those looking to protest to “put your safety and health before anything else” amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, it also thanked those who had donated to its bail fund, which has been used to help those arrested during recent protests, and for “ongoing bail relief.”

In the days ahead, the organization put forth five demands from local leaders:

  • That Mayor Durkan end curfews “immediately”
  • For the city to rescind its motion asking to end its ongoing federal consent decree
  • To require all law enforcement to turn on body cameras “throughout the entirety of their shift”
  • That the City of Seattle “establish a de-escalation team” in the wake of allegations of police misconduct during protests
  • For City Council, state lawmakers, and Congress to “consider efforts to decrease funding for police”
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