While the Seattle Police Department and the National Guard were dropping flash bangs and pepper spray on Capitol Hill, what seemed like the entirety of Northeast Seattle took to the streets around some of Seattle's wealthiest neighborhoods from Magnuson Park to University Village. It ended abruptly in a panic.
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On one hand, it was heartwarming to see Sandpoint Way clear of cars and filled for miles with people. But, it was strange. I did not see any police for the entire march.
When we arrived at University Village, I only saw one mall security guy. The crowd filled the shopping center's parking lot. The plan was to "turn up" in University Village. Organizers—self-described as drag queens and people from Seattle's ballroom scene—sang happy birthday to Breonna Taylor, the woman who was killed by police in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky in March. Then, they led the group in an 8-minute and 46-second moment of silence for George Floyd. But, the moment of silence was interrupted one minute before it ended.
"The National Guard has University Village surrounded," a man yelled to the crowd. He urged people to disperse peacefully or they would be arrested, he said. The organizers, flustered, got on the mic and told everyone to exit and march back to Magnuson Park. Puzzled, people complied and began the march back in the dark.
My feet were aching and I hadn't seen any National Guard let alone any other police, so I stayed to poke around. Sure enough, there they were. SPD and National Guardsmen were hanging outside the western edge of the mall. I asked if there had been any dispersal orders.
"No," the officer said. "That march was textbook on how it's done. It was beautiful. Awesome."
Okay so just talked to SPD. They’re here in case any property damage happens but gave no orders to disperse. Here’s my convo with them: pic.twitter.com/GuIcI3xQ4w
— nathalie graham (@gramsofgnats) June 7, 2020
So why did someone sound the alarm and end the march early?