On Friday evening, rival gang members will walk together for the United Hood March in downtown Seattle. Following in the footsteps of “brothers, and sisters, and other black organizations across the nation,” participants plan to call for systemic justice.
“We are tired of waking up to black men, women, children dead because of violence in our community, or police brutality. Join us, and let’s let our voices be heard! United WE stand, divided WE fall!” reads event information circulated online. Demonstrators will meet at the Seattle Police Department Headquarters to call for more accountability, and then proceed to City Hall to demand accountability from local leaders. A memorial for black people lost to violence will also take place at a local park.
The march’s organizers say the main goal of the peaceful protest is to advocate for the well-being of black people. Accountability is important, but law enforcement isn’t the primary focus. “We can’t ignore that the police have been killing us, but we also can’t ignore that a 2 year old had just got killed in Kent. We care about Black people,” Amir Islam told The Stranger.
Co-organizer and former inmate Dwayne Maxted also acknowledged his role in creating a hostile environment. “I brought my neighborhood together — and I take some responsibility for the environment it created. I’ve lost a lot of friends through the madness,” he explained. “This is not a moment, this is a movement.”
In recent years, the Seattle Police Department has been closely monitored by the DOJ, following a federal investigation that found a pattern of excessive force in the department. Gang violence has also risen steadily in the past few years. Both forms of violence have come at the expense of black lives.
This isn’t the first time gangs have come together to demand justice. When Baltimore erupted in protest following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, gang members set aside their differences and marched through the streets as one. The Baltimore Police Department claimed Bloods, Crips, and the Black Guerilla Family were targeting officers, but the gang members had an entirely different objective in mind. Many walked peacefully through the streets. Some made sure reporters and young people were safe, while others guarded black-owned businesses.
“We was for one common cause,” one told Larry Wilmore on the Nightly Show. “I want everybody to keep their hope and stay peaceful.” Immediately after the uprising, members of the three gangs told Wilmore the truce would continue.