The High School Student Protesters 90s Upheaval
  • Ryan T. Hicks
  • The High School Student Protesters 90's Upheaval
Set to a soundtrack of NWA's Fuck Tha Police playing off a cell phone held in front of a bull horn, fewer than 20 students walked out of class yesterday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. to gather at Victor Steinbrueck park and protest the last year's worth of escalating police brutality and civilian harassment in Seattle.

Leaders of the mostly high school group, called the 90's Upheaval (because they were born in the 90's) said that the focus of this particular rally was to influence the verdict against Officer Ian Birk in the shooting of John T. Williams (editor's note: There's no verdict to be influenced—King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to press criminal charges against Birk).

Although the student walkout was advertised as a city-wide protest, most of the tens of students present were from the Southwest Education Center, a credit replacement program run independently of the Seattle Public Schools. One student organizer, a girl named Tanisha Bradford, said the purpose of the walk out and rally was to "take a stand to let police know this is not okay." She couldn't specify what outcomes she—or the group as whole—wanted from the rally, except, she said, to create awareness that nearly every teenager has born the brunt of police harassment and "a good majority" of it is racially motivated.

Also attending the rally were a few members of a group called Socialist Alternative, who were protesting cuts to education spending (clearly the demon work of SPD). I asked for someone to explain to me the tenuous link between police brutality and cuts to education spending, to which one activist replied, "It's the same leaders who perpetuate police brutality that decide to cut spending on education."

When asked to name these leaders the activist, uh, couldn't. By 4:00 p.m. the protest was fizzling. People blamed the low turn out on SPD final exams. Before leaving I asked Tanisha if the group had plans for another protest. "Yes, definitely," she said.

If SPD continues to make huge cuts in education spending, I predict that at the next protest they'll at least double their numbers.