For one speaker, the South Seattle protest was about ‘love and unity’
Thousands of protesters marched in South Seattle this past weekend. For many, the demonstration was a chance to voice their opinions on racial injustice and police brutality. Dominique Davis was one of the speakers at the event, and is the founder and CEO of Community Passageways, a nonprofit with a vision of zero youth detention.
Davis was amazed by how many people attended the event.
“I was flabbergasted actually, when we started planning this … my first thought was, OK, we’ll probably get around 500-600 people to this event.” Davis said. “… And then the next thing I know, through all the social media platforms that everybody released out and the community coming together and just building the momentum, it was amazing to see the response we got.”
The day before the event, Davis was told that nearly 30,000 people said they were coming on the event page. He said they worked quickly to contact more vendors and make sure there was enough food.
The huge attendance numbers, to Davis, shows that people are ready for change.
“It says to me that there is a huge shift in the mindset and … there’s a huge change in our community,” he said. “All people, not just black people, but every single race, ethnicity, background, economic background, I mean, everybody’s coming together to stand up and fight for righteousness together for black and brown people. They’re tired of seeing black and brown bodies being decimated by the system.”
“Personally, I think there is a new movement that nobody had ever imagined happening, and it’s the most powerful movement that has ever been in the United States of America,” he added.
What Davis referred to as a sea of people, he said was inspiring.
“[It] makes you just happy that you’re not the only ones in the fight,” he said. “Usually it’s just black people standing up for black people. Now, everybody’s standing up saying, ‘everybody wants to be treated right.’ And everybody’s fighting for black people to be treated fairly, and have equality and justice in all communities.”
The role of police
Davis has worked with police officers and has ideas in regards to the role officers can play in a community, but he does think there needs to be a power shift.
“I think the role police officers need to play needs to be more of a support role instead of just an enforcement role,” he said.
He suggests that officers use the resources available to them to help people, especially young people and those in black and brown communities where Davis says officers tend to over-patrol, to avoid recidivism.
“The police budgets are very, very high, and then they have access to other resources,” Davis said. “And so instead of, let’s say if a young man or young woman gets caught doing some kind of a [low-level] criminal offense, … instead of them just going through that process of being arrested, going to jail, and and then going through that and becoming part of that revolving door of recidivism, in and out, in and out, … let’s give them an opportunity and put some systems in place for that officer to have the opportunity to say, ‘OK, we’re going to get you over here to this community alternative, and we’re gonna help you.'”
This, Davis says, would help people get into a better situation rather than putting them into the criminal justice system. He suggested that police could help people get housing, seek treatment for mental health issues, or drug issues.
The turning point
There have been protests across Washington, and across the country in recent weeks. Davis said he does see the widely shared video of George Floyd’s murder as part of the turning point.
“I think that people got to see a man slowly die, slowly begging for his life, while a white supremacist, racist person sat there with his knee on his neck, with a smirk on his face, with his hands in his pockets, posing pretty much, right? And then kind of taunting at the same time,” he said. “That’s just burned an image into so many people’s head that if you’re any kind of human being that has any kind of feeling for anybody at all … you had to do something.”
The other turning point, Davis says, is when we saw masses of people hit the streets in protest.
“[My] first thought was is this going to be another Black Lives Matter only thing that happens, and are only black people gonna hit the street, cause that’s what we automatically do and think,” Davis said. “But then when I see everybody, every age, every background, … people from different neighborhoods, in different areas, and different cities … it’s just amazing. Now it’s a worldwide movement.”
That, Davis said, is when he knew this was different. Now, politicians have to take notice as the voters who keep them in office are protesting, demanding change.
“They have to listen to demands now, and they have to move in the direction of these demands if they want to stay in power,” he said.
How to be an ally
While Davis recognizes that it’s important to show up now, he says everyone needs to keep showing up. This is not a short-term agenda.
“People need to show up when it’s not just a comfortable environment and you’re not just able to protest and let your voices be heard where you’re marching,” he said. “But you have to really come into these meetings with different political officials, and we have to really push agendas. We are planning on doing some big things and pushing some real hard core agendas, and some white folks might be uncomfortable with some of the agendas we want to push. Some other races and ethnicities might be uncomfortable, but they’re gonna need to stand up and keep playing that role and stay consistent in this.”
It’s more than coming to a protest, shouting, and going back home, Davis said.
“It’s going to be time to roll up your sleeves and put the hard work in, in the next few weeks. And so when they say they’re our allies, we’re gonna find out who the real allies are when we’re really pushing these agendas and we’re really going and sitting down and holding these elected officials and the people that are running the systems accountable.”
Holding cops accountable
When many people are police bashing, it’s easy for other messages to get lost.
“It’s the same thing when you talk about black and brown people, like the message goes out that we’re all horrible, that we’re all gang members, and drug dealers, and thieves, and gangsters and all this stuff,” Davis said. “And basically mainstream media and social media pushes these agendas out that … demonize black people, and it’s the same thing with the cops, right?”
“We get put in these buckets, … so not all cops are bad. I can honestly say that,” he added.
Davis has family members on the police force and knows people who are good cops, who care about people, and care about their jobs.
“What needs to happen is the officers that are good and have a good heart, they need to absolutely hold their comrades accountable,” he said.
“They need to be accountable to systems, too. Systems need to charge them, prosecute them, and put them in prison for murder,” Davis said. “Just like I would be charged with murder or you would be charged with murder if [we] actually murdered somebody.”
Davis thinks all officers should be coming out to stand with the community. He recognizes that some officers have, but it has not been consistent.
Davis thanked a long list of people who helped to organize the event this weekend, and the many food vendors who held fundraisers and gave food to attendees for free. There was not a police presence as the community policed itself, he said. Young people were assembling care packages of food, snacks, PPE, and passing them out.
“It was incredible,” he said. “… The community worked diligently … people just rolled up their sleeves and we went to work. Every day, all day, for five straight days and then look at the results of what happened when community comes together and has a vision and the whole thing is all about love and unity, bringing everybody together.”
“We’re not against anybody,” he added. “We are for people that want peace and love in the community.”
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