Ferguson Protests Continue In Seattle As Students Walk Out To March

Nov 25, 2014

Demonstrations continued Tuesday in Seattle as students and others took to the streets to protest the grand jury decision in Missouri not to indict a Ferguson police officer.

Hundreds of students walked out of Roosevelt High School Tuesday morning and rallied at the University of Washington a few blocks away.

The NAACP organized a march at noon in the Central District. Another group of students, many from Garfield High School, marched in the noon hour from the Central District to the downtown federal courthouse.

"It's hard for these students to really begin to process the depths of institutional racism, but it's a beautiful thing to see students realize that it's up to them to make a difference, that no one's going to come and save them," said Garfield High teacher Jesse Hagopian. 

Some 1,000 students walked out of Garfield High alone to join the march, according to a tweet by Seattle Public Schools.

"It wasn't just the numbers; it was the passion," said Hagopian. "It was students who have seen Trayvon Martin's life be taken and no justice administered, and realize that we can't just keep letting this happen."

Among the students was Victoria Vong, the secretary of Garfield’s student body. Vong said more young people need to stand up against systems that target black people. She came out to raise awareness for the way that oppression permeates society, even, she said, at Garfield.

"I’ve seen the statistics on like at our school at who gets punishment and who doesn’t. And black students are punished at four times the rate of white students, despite the fact that they account for like 40 percent of our population. And as youth, we think it’s an outside issue sometimes, but it doesn’t start after you graduate," Vong said. 

Vong said she was heartened to see so many students coming together with larger activist groups Tuesday. She hoped they can keep up the momentum in the coming weeks.

Feeza Mohammed, a 20-year-old Seattle University student, brought along her 9-year-old neighbor to the rally. She said she wanted to show her young neighbor there is a movement growing amid high emotions.

"I’m less angry, I’m more sad," she said. "A lot of my friends, the men of color in my life, wanted to go out and protest, and were very angry last night. And I found myself very scared for them. And I don’t want to feel that way."

Ed Mayer, 54, said we haven’t come as far as we like to think when it comes to civil rights.

“I’m more than frustrated, I’m actually at the point of being angry. I’m a father of three with one son. And next time, it could be my son. Next time, it could be your son. I really feel that as an African American, it was open season on us," Mayer said. 

Tuesday's protest ended with song. One pastor said he is praying the demonstrations remain peaceful in keeping with the wishes of the Brown family. 

Demonstrations Monday night in Seattle turned violent with vandalism and the crowd throwing rocks and bottles at police who responded with peppery spray and flash-bang grenades. Five people were arrested. Part of the group briefly closed Interstate 5.