Tuesday, June 30, 2020

erry day

Coverage of Black Lives Matter protests has mostly stopped, unless there's violence (state-sponsored or Proud Boy/KKK) so you might think the protests have stopped, too.
But, they haven't.
*
Every evening a group leaves CHOP and heads downtown to the West Precinct to protest.
Usually they shut down Interstate 5 for a bit.
It happens every day, and rarely makes the news.
I only know because sometimes I run into the protesters heading out, or watch on a livestream.
Twitter tells the tale because Sound Transit tweets out bus delays.
*
Good old route 512. I wonder if the 7pm to 9pm route just expects it now. If the driver brings a crossword puzzle book and a snack.
Here's the evidence, starting with late May.


And, here's Monday night's:


Monday, June 29, 2020

every day is new

At CHOP, every day is new.
Hell, every hour is new, sometimes.
I don't always understand, and I certainly don't always like the new.
But it's evolving, growing, contracting, reacting like the true organism that it is.
There's laughter and shouting, anger and joy, thought provoking art and flat-out capitalism.
There's a hot dog stand.

Last night was another night of shooting and a death.
The armed security at Car Tender allegedly provided medical aid but was not part of the shooting.
This morning, after a restless night, I set out to the drug store.
Pine was eerily quiet, with only security at the barriers and a few green-hatted legal aid observers.
*
((NOTE: I am not taking or posting photos in the CHOP. There are plenty of pix via news sources and social media including:
After a walk last week when an SUV with Texas plates slow-rolled past me, parents gawking out the front, teens video-ing out the back, I'm done playing tourist. Also, not everyone at CHOP is okay with being photographed, particularly not the medics or legal observers.))
*
Anyway, Pine was quiet down to Broadway, so I ran my errands and walked back up Pike. I wanted to stop at the mail place at 12th and Pike but could see there was a crowd gathered on the north corner. I slowed. Probably 20 or 30 people surrounded a black pickup truck, yelling and shouting at the occupants. I waited awhile but it wasn't clear why they were so upset. So, I back-tracked down to 11th and cut over to Pine.
I chatted with one of the security folk for a minute. Quietly, they said they have a kid at home but feel strongly they need to be out there protecting the neighborhood.
I continued up Pine, also still strangely empty, save for a group at the top of the hill, just outside the East Precinct. As I got closer I saw a petite figure in a police uniform and realized Chief Best was giving a press conference.
I listened to the tail end, hovering on the edge of 30 or so cameras and reporters. In the apartments above, a woman yelled, "Black Lives Matter!" and we chanted for a minute. A guy with a bullhorn played a police siren at random moments, drowning out the chief. Eventually she headed up the hill towards 13th, trailed by all of the news cameras.
*
I have no insight into what is next or what anything means. I assume the police will return sooner rather than later. I worry for the safety of the brave folks outside, unprotected and targeted.
*
Just as every day is new, every night feels strangely the same.
Worrisome. Tense. We sit--inside and out--and wait.

someone is going to get shot tonight

I'm writing this to publish a few days from now, so that the situation can calm itself and also to have a record in case--of what, I don't know.
I'm feeling many conflicting emotions. Fear, anger, determination, exhaustion. More familiar to people of color, I think, and not so much me as a privileged white person.
Anyway.
*
I spent Saturday writing and headed home around 5pm to drop off some groceries. I'd called the liquor store about picking up boxes and they'd closed early Friday due to the unrest but the owner said to come by Saturday. I dropped off my groceries and headed right back out.
There was a person on the front sidewalk shooting a roman candle out of a bottle. Ill advised on a number of levels, but they were having a great time. They were also not white, and I was damned if I was going to call the cops on a person of color. So I just said Dude what the fuck and walked to the liquor store.
At the corner I heard what must have been a string of black cats. Blam blam blam. In this neighborhood, at this time, again, ill-advised.
The liquor store owner stood outside with a male companion. I know her a little bit so I stopped to say hi. She was staring down the block. My nerves do not need this, she said.
I know, I said. They're in front of my building.
She told me to go on in and get boxes, so I did.
When I got back to my building, the fireworks person was coming back out, holding up a mortar and a cluster of fireworks--M80's.
Christ. It was going to be one of those nights. I went upstairs and dropped off the boxes, and put away my groceries. I had one more errand and needed to kill 10 minutes or so. I chopped berries, and heard the mortars.
*
Grabbing my keys, I headed out. At the front door I could see the fireworks person and a bunch of other figures, all male, I think, yelling and shoving. There was blood. An SUV had pulled up onto the sidewalk, doors hanging open. Another car--a sports car maybe?--also doors open, was in the loading zone beside the building.
The fireworks person was on the curb. People were trying to punch, trying to push, several videoing with their phones. One guy saw me and somehow they all shifted to the right, towards the milk tea place.
I didn't feel panic so much as What the fuck, and an urgent need to get away from the situation. I walked into the parking lot where the USPS truck was trying to pull out and beat a retreat. A youngish white guy stood there too and we watched the melee--more hitting and shoving. I could see a CHOP medic and others who looked like they were trying to deescalate, but there was a lot of blood and I think some broken glass.
I walked north and then took a left to cut through the park. I called my property manager. No answer. I texted him. I called the new property manager and got a phone tree. Fuck.
My pizza was ready so I got it and walked the long way, up Pine, through the barricades. There was a meeting on the Cal Anderson ballfield so I listened for a few minutes, to the strategizing about what may be coming tomorrow.
Barricades being removed? Yes/No?
Military coming in? Oh, no.
A guy tried to chat me up and asked me on a date, so I headed up towards 12th.
A tall, slender man I've seen many days was hollering at a young kid who was in the alcove or garage opening of the East Precinct. Get out of there, he yelled. I been telling you. We're under surveillance. It's not safe. The kid waved him off but did leave the alcove.
As I walked, the building manager texted they were aware of the situation and monitoring it. Whatever the fuck that meant.
*
The liquor store owner was outside her store, having pulled the metal grates across the doors, but still open. I stopped. We traded looks. Someone is gonna get shot tonight, she said.
I told her about seeing my neighbor being beaten.
She said whoever had beat them up had run past her, yelling that the fireworks person was a boogaloo or Proud Boy.
No way, I said. The person lives in my building. They're not a Proud Boy or boogaloo.
It's a bad time to wear Hawaiian shirts, she said laconically. You better get security on your building. You might be targeted.
*
I walked back to my building. The random cars were gone. The fireworks person was being tended to by CHOP medics, who were handing them gauze, water, calming them. There was blood everywhere, big red wet drops on the sidewalk, the entry way, the curb, a parked SUV.
Where are my keys, the fireworks person said, seeming dazed. Their face and arm were bloody, as were their clothes. I helped a medic look and finally I saw the key, shining and bloody, on the sidewalk. I pointed it out.
I let the person into the building so as to prevent any more blood from being transferred. I nodded to the medic, who stood out on the sidewalk, and he nodded back.
*
Upstairs, I thought about what to do. Calling the cops was a non-starter. But I was angry about my building manager acting like it was no big deal.
I texted him and asked him to speak with me. He said he needed an hour. I replied, there is blood all over the entry way and sidewalk. Dude. He replied asap--he would get it cleaned up immediately.
We need security, I texted. No reply.
So, I called the emergency number for the property manager.
The property manager's first instinct was to tell me to call 911 -- and I laughed. They won't come, I said. And I won't call them on a person of color.
The fire department will come, he said, and I laughed again.
Nope. They wouldn't come for the attempted arson 2 weeks ago at Car Tender. No one is coming. I tried to impress this on him. I support BLM 100%. I want the protests to effect change. I also don't think anyone deserves to get beaten up on their front doorstep.
He said he agreed.
*
Am I a Karen? I fucking hope not.
I did not reveal the fireworks person's name or unit number. I checked on them after I called, and gave them the property manager's personal cell phone in case they need medical attention.They seemed sheepish and said they'd been day drinking and probably deserved it.
To which I said, No one deserves to get the shit beat out of them on their own front step.
Well, they said, with a sheepish half-smile. I don't think I got the shit beat out of me.
*
Postscript: the continuing tension has brought me closer to my neighborhood, in a way. I care so much about what happens and to whom. I don't like getting pushed around by anyone. I have a little text chain with someone on a lower floor and someone next door, and we keep each other updated. Everyone is worried. And, determined.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

what comes next

A dear friend is going through terrible health problems and on Friday we were able to have a brief, front yard chat. We talked about how their future is no longer what they imagined. They said the more they resisted, the more pain they felt. That yielding is the ultimate source of peace.
As I read about the city's upcoming plans for CHOP and my neighborhood, it's hard not to worry and fret. I fled for a day or two this week, discouraged by night after night of shootings.
I'm back. Tuning in and supporting the citizen journalists. Keeping one eye on Twitch.
*
I want to be an ally.
I want to continue to work for positive change.
Let us look forward to what comes next.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

a juneteenth conversation

Last week I tuned in to watch Ijeoma Uluo and her brother Ahamefule J. Uluo in conversation about Juneteenth. 
Big ups to the King County Library System for hosting the event, which drew at least 5000 viewers on a summer weeknight.
Big not-ups to the moderator, whose utter cluelessness prompted her to ask the siblings to demo "the nod" they mentioned when discussing greetings between people of color.
I groaned aloud on my couch: NOOOOOOOOO! No no no no!
The Uluos handled this question with grace and a firm, "No."
*
Their discussion was wide ranging, pleasant, directed. I realized, yet again, how completely black history has been erased from American culture and society. Gradually, we are beginning to remember.
"The Watchmen" and the Tulsa riots and Black Wall Street. The origins of Central Park in Seneca Village. Black cowboys and Betty Boop.
I need to keep reading and learning and listening.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

don't call it a comeback

I'm torn on the "re-opening" narrative.
Yes I'm sick to death of takeout and instant coffee and my own home cookin.' Yet I shiver with dread walking down Broadway and seeing people inside restaurants (!) sitting at tables (!!) talking and eating (!!!).
Quelle horreur.
I also think it suits the oligarchs and Richie Rich's of the world for all the little people to get up off the middling couch of unemployment--paying better than their minimum wage jobs, a scandal--and get back to slinging cocktails and pulling espresso shots for low wages and shitty tips.
Walking up to an establishment is now an exercise in scans and quick reading.
The Black Lives Matter solidarity signs.
The Pride signs (sheds a tear).
The "how to wear a mask" signs.
The instructions on getting in, and getting out.
*
Which sign applies to me?
Do I go right in? Poke my head in? Wait for someone to summon me?
Coffee shops in South Lake Union have stationed a person outside their doors armed with hand sanitizer and paper towels.
At the fabric store last week, I hesitated in the open doorway, waiting for the thumb's up to enter.
It's all different.
I don't want to go back to "normal."
I want us all to be okay.








Wednesday, June 24, 2020

the in-between

I was a big fan of Stranger Things for 2.2 seasons. (Seasons 1&2 = YES, Season 3 = meh).
Living in times of covid-19, massive protest, and the confounding chaos of CHOP has made me reflect on the Upside Down.
These are Strange Times.
We're living in the In-Between.
Two trusted friends have proposed that we are living in a time of revolution. I guess you don't recognize it when you're in it, like the ol' frog being boiled in a saucepan, and my inner, long-dormant Baptist quakes a little bit at the concept, but--they might be right.
*
The pandemic continues--worsens--and since everyone is tired of precautions and staying home, we just act like it's over. My neighborhood has gone from teargas and cops to a so-called autonomous zone (and tetrabytes of breathless coverage) to a so-called occupied protest (even more coverage and criticism) to now nightly shootings to -- ?
What's next?
*
I hope for positive next steps.
Re-focusing on systemic change. Fairness. Justice. Reparations?
*
Also, I'm hoping for restful sleep sometime soon.
My mind churns. I hear a firework and think it's a grenade, or a gunshot.
Trying to keep busy, I work all day, sew masks, keep creating, connecting, hoping.


Sunday, June 21, 2020

more solidarity in the ID

I needed to meet a colleague in the International District the other day. They source fabric and materials for the mask-making project I'm a part of, and I was out of elastic. We agreed to meet at a bubble tea shop in the ID, about halfway between our spots. It was a warm, sunny walk down Jackson. Last time I walked through (Mother's Day), it was just me and a few nefarious looking characters. This day, even though shop windows are still boarded up, there were people out and about, selling produce, sitting at the bus stops, delivery drivers dashing in and out of restaurants.


@lmfreebird


@openairdance


Saturday, June 20, 2020

with bated breath

It's hard to know how to record life at the moment. The Black Lives Matter protest at CHOP seems to have become intermingled with a park full of hippies and anarchists. Agitators come in and start things. Yesterday, for Juneteenth, was a blackout day and so I stayed on the outskirts, but kept an eye on Converge Media's livestream.
Covid-19 continues to be worrisome. The border is closed now through July 21 (no family 4oJ for the first time in decades). Even though King County is in phase 2, our numbers are going up, as they are around the state. We're in better shape than Texas or Florida, but going outside is still a process of masking up, coming back in, sanitizing and washing everything.
*
My early morning walks have taken on a surreal quality.
The other day, I was coming up Pine, and a 70's car with an older gentleman in plastic framed glasses yelled out the window, Where's the Precinct?
12th and Pine, I said.
Down the hill?
I pointed. No, up.
He and his passenger roared off.
*
This morning I masked up and headed out around 8am. It had been a troubled, sleepless night. Juneteenth fireworks boomed well into the wee hours. At first blast, I thought it was the flash-bangs again but checked Twitter and it was fireworks.
Around 7a.m. I gave up on sleep and checked online again. Two shootings overnight just outside of CHOP, around 2a.m. One person dead. Conflicting accounts. I walked down Pine into a misty morning. Early risers stood around outside the tents and along Pine, talking. A disturbed man (there's always a disturbed man) shouted and ran around the Black Lives Matter mural. There was blood on the sidewalk outside Oddfellows.
*
UPDATE: I came home from my work space and walked through the CHOP. Organizers had folks on the baseball field, figuring out next steps and precautions. A group of 20 or so was huddled behind home plate and as I got closer, I saw a figure laying on a tarp and a very upset woman running away. The figure seemed still but not injured so I kept going. I listened to the organizer for a bit, then headed up the hill to 12th, where I found a pickup truck, a Q13 reporter and camera, and 2 men in bulletproof vests, armed with what looked like guns and batons.
Who are you!? I said.
Security, the closer guy said. At least 6'2.
For who? (I know, whom. But I was rattled.)
The news.
What news?
A glance at the reporter, still sitting on the tailgate, on his phone.
Fox. Q13. Because of the 2 guys who got shot last night.
Okay, I said.
We talked. He said his company was hired to patrol the area at night.
Does this make me feel better or worse about the state of the neighborhood?
I honestly don't know.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

relax, don't do it

My early morning jaunts are lighter (sun-wise) and stranger these days. The pandemic restrictions are relaxing, businesses are re-opening, sort of. I've seen people dining inside restaurants (why tho), a secondhand clothing shop is open (how?) and at least half the faces I saw outside this morning were unmasked.
I've gone outside twice this week without my mask, felt that feeling of "um, something's wrong" and then headed back inside to mask up.
*
I did see a sign about an open public restroom (they've been closed for months).
"Good to Go!" is also the tagline for the downtown Seattle tunnel. I guess things are going into holes so maybe there's alignment?
Anyway.
Would I take any of these risks?
Not yet. Not now. Still not ready to relax.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

still matters

Despite the misinformation and wrangling going on with CHOP/CHAZ, business support for protests in the neighborhood continues to be strong. Mostly.
On a recent walk, I was interested to see quite a lot of corporate or business signage that includes statements about Black Lives Matter.
Is this alignment a calculation? A statement of beliefs?
This is a pretty liberal neighborhood in a pretty liberal town, but ongoing pandemic restrictions + protests have likely hit small businesses directly in the wallet. I hope we're all getting takeout and tipping well.
I hope we're being the humans we need to be.
The second photo was taken of 2 businesses directly across the street from Amazon Go on Pike, which naturally has zero BLM signage and had many windows busted out during the riots.

drawing a line


Tuesday, June 16, 2020

CHAZ-->CHOP-->?

I've stopped taking pictures in the CHAZ/CHOP. The weekend saw some sun breaks and huge crowds looking at the new Black Lives Matter mural down Pine Street. It felt more like block party than a protest, so I stayed away other than a couple of quick looks.
The messages I'm hearing and seeing from the activists who have been on the scene since the beginning is: this is a protest, not a party. And asking: why are you taking pictures? Who benefits?
So, in light of these important questions, no more protest tourism.
*
Today I walked through, in the morning and afternoon, and SDOT had heavy trucks depositing concrete barriers up and down Pine. The fire chief was there. Reporters with video cameras and crews. Masked onlookers watching the enormous concrete moved into place. One person said the barriers were to provide corridors for emergency vehicles--and in light of the attempted arson Sunday night, I think it's a good idea.
But the area claimed by protesters is shrinking, at least on the street.
At the park, it's another story. A few tents have now mushroomed into dozens, with a raft of new porta-potties, a medical truck parked outside a church, and music bumping all day and night. Is it related still to the CHAZ/CHOP? I don't know. I've wondered how the homeless who use the park feel. Or the dog-walkers. It's getting used more but it's also not a place I feel like I can linger, even with a mask.
*
I do know--on a personal note--that I'm not sleeping very well. First, a couple of weeks of tear gas, grenades and tear gas; now, no law enforcement (at least not visibly) but disruptive elements picking fights and parading around after dark. There's a feeling that this detente may not last, and then what? I took 1/2 a sleeping pill last night; woke in the dark, feeling the floor shake, and finally went back into a restless doze.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

the misinformation

It's wild to me how much misinformation is flying around regarding Seattle, Black Lives Matters, protests, covid-19 and protests, the so-called CHAZ, and so on.
The weeks of protest have had no measurable impact on covid-19 infections. Most everyone I saw at yesterday's march was masked and silent.
In a time where nearly everyone  has a smart phone with video capabilities, you'd think truth was truth.
But, no.
The Seattle Times busted Fox (so-called) News for photo-shopping an armed, masked man into pictures of Capitol Hill. And not just "a" man but the "same" man. And running pictures of Minneapolis in flames with a caption showing it was Seattle.
C'mon.
I'm still not entirely sure what CHAZ has to do with advancing justice for all (and the focus needs to remain on the aims of Black Lives Matter), but the fact that the simple existence is provoking commentary, thought and controversy is kind of exciting.





















Saturday, June 13, 2020

a silent march

An estimated 60,000 people marched in silence yesterday from Seattle's Judkins Park to Jefferson Park, in support of Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County. There were other marches scattered around the city and PNW as well.
I have been to many many protests, rallies and marches and this was probably the biggest, best organized, and most passionate.


Friday, June 12, 2020

watching from afar (but not that far)

Earlier this week, during some of the worst, tensest nights in my neighborhood, I tuned into a Twitch channel that aggregated many of the livestreamers (citizen journalists, most of them, and also the Stranger staff and the indomitable Omari Salisbury).
It seems peak Seattle but it's a neighborhood service I won't soon forget.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

good looking out UPS

From the front door of a nearby UPS store.
Wear your masks, everyone. I went for a walk this morning and forgot mine.
I felt so exposed. And to everyone giving me dirty looks -- I KNOW! Sorry. I did my best to avoid approaching any humans.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

say his name


After 2 more wild nights of flash-bangs, tear gas, pepper spray, and a shooting, I wondered what next for my neighborhood and the protests. (Bear in mind there were at least ten protests/events around King County over the weekend all all but one remained violence-free.)
The rumors started during the day Monday, that the police were leaving the East Precinct.
And lo, it was true.
I had an uneasy night last night, as the rumors were flying about instigators and Proud Boys, but the only outbreak that occurred seems to have been peace and love.
I walked through at noon today and found barricades repurposed as pedestrian safety barriers; I was able to walk down my street and around my neighborhood without the stares of rows and rows of police and national guard. People chatted, held signs, conferred, stood and watched. A news crew did a broadcast. A police officer talked with some city workers. Not a few dog-walkers ambled through.
There is a general sense of relief.
And, determination.


Monday, June 8, 2020

signs from the barricades

More signs from the barricades.
The mood is strong and optimistic, despite recent violence.
I see brave people putting their safety on the line hour by hour.
 
Blick








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bsp videos don't sleep on 'em