Rally, vigil held Wednesday in memory of slain Seattle protester
Dozens of people held a rally and vigil in memory of protester Summer Taylor on Wednesday ahead of a court appearance for the driver accused of running down protesters on I-5, killing Taylor and injuring one other.
The driver, identified as Dawit Kelete, is being charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving. His bail was set at $1.2 million.
Kelete reportedly swerved around cars parked on I-5 protecting a group of Black Femme March demonstrators, part of the Black Lives Matter movement protesting racial inequality and police violence. Driving on the shoulder, he veered sharply left directly into two people, Taylor and Diaz Love. Taylor died after suffering “catastrophic injuries.” Love suffered multiple fractures of her legs and arms, as well as “internal injuries.”
As part of Wednesday’s rally and vigil, flowers were laid at the base of a tree at City Hall Park next to the courthouse in memory of Taylor.
Love spoke to the assembled crowd from their hospital bed via Zoom, expressing support for protesters, and claiming that police were “negligent in blocking the freeway” for protesters.
“I’m not going to stop until that’s proven and there’s action from that,” Love vowed.
Taylor’s mother also spoke, announced plans for multiple lawsuits against SPD on behalf of her daughter and other injured protesters.
Kelete’s family issued a statement on Tuesday:
“No words can express or make up for the suffering that Diaz Love, Summer Taylor’s family, and their loved ones and friends are enduring at this moment. We recognize the pain is profound, raw and unbearable. It is always gut wrenching to lose one’s child at a young age, but it is more hurtful under these circumstances. To Summer Taylor’s parents, family and friends, we sincerely say we are very sorry for the agony you are going through and pray that Summer is in a peaceful state. RIP Summer. To Diaz Love we are hoping and praying for a speedy and full recovery,” said Dawit Kelete’s family.
Kelete’s attorney also released a statement:
Dawit Kelete has been part of the BLM protests. “This tragic event was not a political act or statement. On behalf of Kelete and his family, we ask each of you to leave room for the fact that we witnessed a tragic accident and not a crime. We are at the beginning of our investigation and will produce a truthful and trustworthy defense,” said Kelete’s attorney Francisco A. Duarte.
Other speakers expressed shock and sadness at displays of violence against peaceful protesters in Seattle.
“Every single day, I read on Facebook, ‘How could these people be marching in the street and not expect to be hit by a car?'” one speaker described. “Imagine knowing there’s a group of people marching for Black Lives Matter, marching for equality, equity, for basic living; imagine wanting to run a group like that down.”
At one point, a brief scuffle broke out over the race of one of the speakers.
“[It was] emotional for organizers here honoring friends,” KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott noted.