What Dawit Kelete's Case Tells Us About American Culture



What's more indicative about culture, is that the protesters including Taylor and Love, weren't protesting at the time. They were enjoying the novelty of being on the freeway, chatting about friends, dancing to music. Simply having a pleasant time - until the "Car!"

No locking arms, no chanting, no candles, no bullhorns.

In essence a lot of the recent protesting is more social than protest. It almost seemed the original passion for the event was secondary. That's a more accurate cultural takeaway than the extrapolations of the various reasonings on the motive and behavior of Dawit Kelete.


@1 Yeah, nothing wrong with getting together with your friends to dance, but doing it on a freeway is pretty fucking stupid. Driving the wrong way on the freeway is also pretty stupid, but the fact that the people he ran over were doing something they really shouldn't have been doing lessens Kelete's culpability.


Jesus Christ, @1 and @2, seriously? Part of protest is to disrupt to draw attention to a cause. Like disrupting traffic on a freeway, which is what they and all of the others were doing. One victim died, another is seriously wounded, and you're joining the side that they were essentially asking for it? Ouch.


@2 -- It is common to close down streets and allow bike riders on those streets. This has been done of the express lanes dozens of times. I think I would feel safer riding a bike in that situation over riding a bike on a typical street. There was no reason for those people to feel like what they were doing was especially dangerous, but thanks for letting us know you are in the "blame the victim" camp.


I'm in that first camp, by the way. It seems crazy to think someone would drive that poorly, but it happens all the time. There are a lot of accidents caused by people going the wrong way on the freeway. There are just a couple recent accidents that are also local:


What is surprising to many is that when they are going the wrong way, the still drive relatively fast. This is frustration and panic setting in. It is a weird thing -- it is exactly the opposite of what you should be doing -- but it is common. Rather than slow down, and slowly turn the car around, or pull over to the side, they gun it. Basically, they want to get the fuck out of there as soon as possible, and get to somewhere "normal", or comfortable.

From a societal standpoint, don't forget the role that car culture and an over-reliance on cars plays in all of this. In a typical European or Asian city of the same size (and same wealth) that dude wouldn't have been driving -- he would be taking the train or a bus.


@1 Protest can be joyous. Protest can be disorganized. Protest can be novel. Protest does not have any requirement for particular equipment, accoutrements, or behavior.

But I doubt any of this will shake your belief that you and your caste are the anointed arbiters of what does and does not constitute legitimate protest.


@1 We all understand you think she was asking for it. You have a pattern.


Thank you Charles


Obligatory: https://i.redd.it/zolo3rd1dw151.png


It seems fair to question the organizer of this specific protest both rhetorically and practically if the effectiveness of this protest was worth the cost of these 2 lives. there will always be haters on the right for any 'liberal' protest or any anti-authoritative action no matter the cause (except gun-rites, white power and anti-semitism).

CM can also tie any topic into an anti-car, pop-psych, 'america-car-death-cult' article. It is impressive, but also a little tired.


What a complete cluster f*ck!
Idiots, claiming to be progressives, block the freeway at night.
Kelete, a WSU graduate, working at a gas station?

I am beginning to wonder if some of the people organizing the "protests", praising "CHAZ" are plants from Trump2020. Who know? Maybe TheStranger is getting funds from the Orangutan.

Today's progressives really disappoint me:
You all show your "individuality" by getting piercings, tattoos, dyeing your hair this and that color; well, anyone with an ant like IQ can do that.
What takes brain is to figure out who is benefiting from all your "protests", all your "defund police" ramblings, ...


@12 Most crime journalism omits the name of the accused (if any) in the first report, simply because the police rarely release names immediately. Suspects are routinely questioned and/or held overnight before being booked, and the police (correctly) do not disclose names when no charges have yet been filed. News outlets (correctly) do not normally print the names of people accused before obtaining confirmation from the police that they are in fact suspects.

There's nothing to see here.

The name was not withheld indefinitely, or even for very long as far as these things go. It was weeks before the names of the men accused of killing Breonna Taylor were released, and I doubt that bothers you enough to post internet comments about it.



An oldie, but a goodie for ya there, boomer.



OK, I get the idea of blocking I-5. That was big during the Vietnam protests. But what's the point of blocking it in the middle of the night?


Mellow dear, my friends call me Catalina, but you can call me MRS Vel-DuRay.

And I am fine, thank you. Thanks to Dr. Salim.


Good piece Chuck. A quandary for sure. It doesn’t fit the profile of what’s been a person involved in vehicular assault. Was he angry at the protesters or just a shitty, inattentive, aggressive driver. Wrong way on a closed ramp into a group of protesters. To those blaming protesters for being on the freeway you’re giving the guy a pass on driving past a closed ramp. What if that ramp would have been closed due to construction or an accident and those there were killed and injured? Would that be the fault of emergency responders on the scene or construction workers on the freeway. Would have it been an unexpected time for a wreck or construction work?


The guy was tweeked out from coming down on drugs and driving like a idiot. Girls dancing on the freeway appeared. “Where did they come from?”


We have a list of potential motivators:
1. Substance abuse/withdrawal
2. Fear/confusion
3. Hate (against the movement, womyn, protesters in general, class or cultural differences, etc.)
4. Thrill seeking / joy ride gone wrong.
5. Mental illness

Or some combination of the above, there is no Occam's Razor to apply here.


Just gotta say don't miss Katie. Not one bit.


@22, Well, for one First Responders and the Washington State Department of Transportation have a legal right to be there by law. Anytime, day or night. Have you forgotten what your mother told you? Two wrongs don't make a right.



Dont be envious, Douchewitz. If you could write for the Stranger you wouldn't have to troll works beyond your reading comprehension. And the Air Up There (bad film, great OST) was filmed in Kenya and South Africa, but you would never make it up the plateau anyway.


Here's who are responsible for Summer Taylor's death:

25% Dawit Kelete for committing the misdemeanor of reckless driving.
25% The protesters who parked cars horizontal to traffic flow, screening the view of any driver who happened to come by while funneling any car into a narrow chute.
25% Summer Taylor for committing the misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.
25% Washington State Patrol for letting this shitshow continue, instead of arresting people who were creating an ongoing public safety hazard by dancing on the freeway.

Remove any one of those, and the accident of July 4th doesn't happen.


@1: You nailed it, raindrop. This stopped being about George Floyd and equity in policing/punishment a long time ago. It's now something for the bored shut-ins of Seattle's 'tats & piercings crowd' to do since they can't go to work (but thanks to UI + PUA are making more money than ever). Since their whole lives to this point have been about nothing but self-indulgence and consumerism, the conceit of thinking they're part of something bigger than themselves and earning their Social Justice (tm) Merit Badge must be irresistable.

This is why The CHOP went the way it did. With no clear goals, leadership, or coherent agenda, it was inevitable that it would become Altamont with shitty music.

The whole George Floyd thing in Seattle has jumped the shark. The last attempt to block I-5 happened Sunday when you had a group of meatheads try to block the freeway in order to bring attention to something happening in - wait for it - fucking Ethiopia!


Hadn't the state patrol already temporarily shut the freeway down? I assume this would include the on ramps through that stretch. He entered the freeway wrong way because the police weren't blocking the off ramps as there was no traffic to block.


I marched on a freeway at night on January 21, 2017 in Portland, along with thousands of others. Somebody could have crossed the barriers and run us over, but that wouldn't have made our concerns any less valid. The more you deflect to this isolated incident over what it represents, the more you enable what they died protesting against.


I like that we get to kill people if they are engaged in an activity that would result in the police issuing a citation.


Excellent article Charles.

37 for the win. Critics need to constantly distract from and invalidate protestors as "not serious" only confirms the protestors worst concerns about law enforcement.

So all we have to go on about these events at this point are the King County charging documents. I'm sorry, how many times have we caught the police lying since George Floyd died? That's right, literally every time. Charging documents are nothing more than media pieces put together by prosecutors for media consumption. Their absolute immunity ensures prosecutors will lie constantly and never be called on it by a media that loves a good headline regardless of it's truth. Meanwhile, the defendant is warned anything he says publicly, unlike the prosecutor, can be used against him in court.

We are finally addressing the problem with policing. When we get done, we will need to address the greater problem with prosecutors.


40: He is one of the very few prosecutor's in America who did his job.

Here's a more typical prosecutor story you can approve of:


Tony Timpa wailed and pleaded for help more than 30 times as Dallas police officers pinned his shoulders, knees and neck to the ground.

Timpa called 911 on Aug. 10, 2016, from the parking lot of a Dallas porn store, saying he was afraid and needed help. He told a dispatcher he suffered from schizophrenia and depression and was off his prescription medication.

“You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me!”

After Timpa fell unconscious, the officers who had him in handcuffs assumed he was asleep and didn’t confirm that he was breathing or feel for a pulse.

As precious minutes passed, the officers laughed and joked about waking Timpa up for school and making him waffles for breakfast.

As the video shows, Timpa is compliant, in handcuffs and sitting on the ground when police arrive. As officers begin to surround him though, the diagnosed schizophrenic became extremely scared. Still, he never once attempted to harm the officers, he simply begged for them to let him go.

But police did not let him go. Instead, they would force him down on the ground, face first, and squeeze the air from his body. The more Timpa squirmed in an effort to breathe, the harder the officers pushed back down on him. Timpa was then hog tied for trying to breathe.

The entire time they are killing him, the officers are cracking jokes and laughing about their actions. Even after Timpa’s body went limp and he was no longer breathing, police continued to crack jokes."

I'm sure this never would have happened if these police officers had been reformed through implicit bias training.

And how did the Prosecutor handle this terrible crime? In a way you would no doubt approve of:

"As the Dallas News reports, those three officers — Kevin Mansell, Danny Vasquez and Dustin Dillard — were indicted by a grand jury in 2017 on charges of misdemeanor deadly conduct, three months after The News published its investigation into Timpa’s death. Following two days of testimony, the grand jury’s indictment stated that the “officers engaged in reckless conduct that placed Timpa in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.”

However, thanks to a corrupt system that sets out to protect cops who kill people, in March 2018, Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot dismissed all the charges."


To all the cockwombles saying it was Summer's fault for being on the freeway: As a driver, you must obey the basic speed law--a non-numerical speed limit encoded in many states' laws, including Washington's, and further encoded in what should be common sense--which in essence means you never go faster than you are able to come to a complete stop within the distance you are able to see. If it's not a protester in the middle of the freeway, it could just as easily be a deer, or a fridge that fell off the back of a scrap metal truck. And--this should not be your only motivation, but I realize for many of you, it will be--if you hit one of those, it is YOU who will be dead, not just the person or thing you hit with your gasoline-powered projectile.


I enjoyed her blabbermouth contributions, but I guess I was a real asshole on some of her posts after she ragged on that dude who lived by the lake and was getting clipped by cyclists while taking his trash out. But yeah she wrote some fine reviews and I would be interested in reading more from her next incarnation fsho.


I blame the driver, and only the driver, for what happened.

But I’ll ask again: what is the point of blocking I-5 at midnight when half the town is asleep, and no one’s watching TV?

And really - if you want to make a statement, why is always I-5? Why not I-90? That would really mess things up, as it would back up traffic onto I-5 on the west, and the floating bridge on the East.


I don't think I'm in any of the categories. I first suspected he was affiliated with the WSU far right, i.e. the same characters involved in Charlottesville. There are minorities in these groups, and who often give them their, "See? We're not racist" argument.

But now I'm more inclined to think he was on meth. The police found some meth paraphernalia, and the DA was trying to get a warrant for a blood test. I stand to be corrected, but I've never heard of someone driving like that because they were in withdrawal.

Did people see this horrific video? Because he did accelerate with a crowd of people right in front of him. I think you do something like that either because it's intentional or you're on drugs.

Another matter I'd like to hear addressed ... a reporter asked the police about two cameras that we're disabled. The officer hadn't heard about it at that time, so he didn't have an answer. So, what was the story with these two freeway cams?


@35 Yes, that's my understanding. They had permission to be there. They were legally on the freeway. I think there were also cars blocking the road itself. So he not only accelerated into a crowd, there was an obvious type of road block. People should see the video. Plus there's another video that shows what they were doing right before he drove in on the exit ramp, i.e a group of mostly black women dancing, and filling up the entire road.


@47 Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. The driver did not accelerate. He swerved left to try to avoid people, but they ran across his path. There was absolutely no motive to hurt anyone, as evidenced by him asking if the people were ok.

The protesters were not legally on the freeway. State Patrol had shut it down for harm reduction purposes, but every last protester was committing the misdemeanor of disorderly conduct.

Reckless driving is also a misdemeanor, btw. This is a multi-fault situation, and you would be ignorant not to see it. And yes, I saw multiple videos, unedited, including the chase that only went to the James exit.


The whole thing is horrifying , but I must admit that nightly dance parties on the freeway are a little indulgent.