On Tuesday, April 16, about 200 people marched from the Mount Zion Church, at Madison and 19th, to the King County Courthouse, at Third and James. The crowd--mourners who attended the funeral of Robert Lee Thomas Sr., a black man shot by a white King County Sheriff's Deputy on April 7--detoured onto I-5 at Madison, jamming traffic for miles. By all accounts, the move onto the freeway was a spontaneous detour that sprang from outrage over Thomas' death. As Mount Zion Reverend Leslie Braxton said later, "We took a right, because it's time to turn things right."

Here's another theory for the I-5 rerouting: Marchers were bent on committing civil disobedience, and they couldn't do that on the original march route because the police gave the march a permit. "We generally try to accommodate people when they want to march," says Seattle Police Lieutenant Mark Kuehn.

But the permit, which was obtained behind the march organizers' backs, and signed by a police lieutenant but not a parade organizer, legitimized the planned march, stripping it of any political potency.

The marchers didn't request the permit, and frankly, they didn't want one. "A political decision was made not to go out and seek a permit," says King County Council Member Larry Gossett, who participated in the march.

"We didn't ask for a permit, because we sought no permission. We don't ask permission to stand up for our dignity," Braxton boomed at a raucous follow-up rally on Monday night, April 22, at Capitol Hill's First A.M.E. Church. "We marched... with an imposed escort."

Don't look for public notices about these protesters' next moves. Braxton and his allies are keeping future plans quiet--so they can do things on their terms, not the city's.

amy@thestranger.com

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