Black Lives Matter | KNKX

Black Lives Matter

Joy Proctor, executive director of the Say Their Names Memorial, places a photo on the memorial site in Portland, Oregon, this past June.
Jessica Mangia Photography

In normal times, 38-year-old Joy Proctor is a wedding planner. She’s a Black woman who ives in Portland, Oregon. After participating in many of the Black Lives Matter protests, she came up with the idea back in June of a quiet way to remember Black men, women and children who have lost their lives at the hands of police or as a result of racially motivated violence. She and her sister and a small team of friends printed out the photos of these individuals and displayed them as a memorial.

Since then, Joy and her sister, Elise Proctor, have founded a nonprofit called Say Their Names Memorial.

A recent tabling event for Mutual Aid Books, an organization that focuses on feeding people’s minds with literature from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) writers.
Grace Madigan / KNKX

Over the summer, a number of mutual aid projects were created in response to both the COVID-19 pandemic and the protests for social justice. While many have focused on feeding people, Mutual Aid Books takes a different approach. The group’s focus instead is on feeding people’s minds with literature from Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) writers.

For Perry Porter, art and activism are one and the same. He may not go out of his way to “Do the whole activism thing,” but it is there embedded in his work. “Sometimes just being a Black man doing what I do is a form of activism in itself.”
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Pablo Picasso once said: All children are artists. But the problem is how to remain an artist once the child grows up. This has not been an issue for Tacoma painter and rapper Perry Porter, whose mother encouraged him to be as creative as he wanted. 

“She made me a very fierce person and allowed me to chase my dreams,” he says. 

Seattle Sounders

Reaction continues in the sports world in response to police violence against Black people in America. Games were postponed in the NBA, WNBA and the NHL Thursday night following similar actions in the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS on Wednesday night. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick that the anger also extends to the NFL.

Jordyn Famimiko (left) and Mary Belay are part of a new student group called the Highline Youth Race and Equity Coalition. The group wants students to have a say in teacher hiring committees.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

The protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have sparked a surge of activism among high school students around issues of racial justice.

Students in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue and other districts in the Puget Sound region have pushed for police officers to be removed from schools. Now, a new student group in the Highline district, south of Seattle, wants youth to have a say in hiring educators.

Heather Beaird was part of the effort to get a statue of George Washington, the founder of Centralia, (pictured above) commissioned. Washington was biracial and his father was enslaved. Beaird says that identity has influenced community conversations.
Ed Ronco / KNKX

Ever since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, demonstrations have followed in Washington state and around the country. Most of the coverage has focused on big cities. Now, we're going to hear from someone in Chehalis.

It and neighboring Centralia are predominately white, but in the weeks following Floyd’s death, the communities saw demonstrations in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Protesters demonstrating on Interstate 5 dates back to the 1970s. It was an epic moment in Seattle's history — and one that the mayor and officials allowed in an effort to address the public's outrage over the Vietnam War.

Dr. Trevor Griffey co-founded the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project at the University of Washington. He currently serves as a lecturer in U.S. History and Labor Studies in Southern California.

Portrait courtesy of Christian Sebastian Parker / Composite by Parker Miles Blohm

As a country, the United States has had previous moments where race has come to the forefront of our national dialogue, and where protests have called for change.

Politico Magazine recently published takes from a handful of experts about whether this current moment of racial reckoning is any different than those previous. They included an essay from Christopher Sebastian Parker, professor of political science at the University of Washington. 

Courtesy of Jourdan Imani Keith

One of the heartbreaking things about the past few weeks for Jourdan Imani Keith is how many of her poems, ones that touch on anguish, outrage and sadness — feel so current right now.

Keith is Seattle’s Civic Poet, and she sighs deeply as she reflects on it.

Protesters gather in Capitol Hill during the early days of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX


The Capitol Hill Organized Protest — or CHOP — in Seattle has attracted worldwide media attention. Huge companies with big payrolls have dispatched reporters there. The whole time, Omari Salisbury has been there, too. He’s an independent journalist, and his company is Converge Media. It often streams live video for hours a day that attracts thousands of views.

Nikkita Oliver speaks at a rally before a march to Seattle City Hall Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Seattle, following protests over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was in police custody in Minneapolis.
Elaine Thompson / The Associated Press

Recent shootings in Seattle near the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, are prompting questions about public safety. Over the weekend, one man was killed and two others were injured. A fourth man was shot early Tuesday.

Attorney and activist Nikkita Oliver says people should not use the shootings to discount the demands of protesters, pointing out that violence had been a problem in the Capitol Hill neighborhood before the protests began, while the East Precinct was fully staffed.

Jennifer Wing

Some small businesses and nonprofits located in Seattle's Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, are not only worried about their financial futures, but also the future of the neighborhood as a whole.

KNKX checked in with three businesses and two nonprofits. While many were willing to talk, they would only talk candidly if they could remain anonymous.

LaNesha DeBardelaben (far left), executive director of the Northwest African American Museum in Seattle, talks with attendees of Juneteenth events last year.
Courtesy of LaNesha DeBardelaben

It’s Juneteenth.

The holiday commemorates June 19, 1865, when a Union general reached Galveston, Texas, and freed the last remaining enslaved people in the Confederacy. That was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, and just about two months after the end of the Civil War.

Katrina Johnson, cousin to the late Charleena Lyles, spoke at a rally on June 18, 2020, the three-year anniversary of Lyles' death.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Katrina Johnson stood alongside a score of families Thursday morning, demanding justice for a long list of Black men and women whose lives were taken by police officers, both here and across the country.

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Seattle on Friday, June 12, for a silent march in honor of Black lives lost to police brutality. The Black Lives Matter movement has inspired solidarity statement from Native groups.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

This week, the National Native American Bar Association issued a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It followed statements about police conduct, in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, from the National Bar Association, the Minnesota American Indian Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the Native American Bar Association of D.C.

Ashley Gross / KNKX

The protests over police killings of Black people have broadened into calls to dismantle systemic racism — including in schools.

In Tacoma, a Black Youth Matters march on Saturday drew hundreds of people of all ages and races. One woman held a sign that said “No Cops in Schools.” Some children wore t-shirts that said “I can’t breathe” in honor of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes.

A protester hangs a sign stating "Racism is a Pandemic" at the All Black Lives Matter march , organized by black LGBTQ+ leaders, on Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Los Angeles.
Paula Munoz / Associated Press

The King County Board of Health is expected to take action Thursday on a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis. 

Executive Dow Constantine and Public Health Director Patty Hayes issued a declaration by blog post last week, after Hayes announced the initiative during a meeting of the county’s Board of Public Health.

Thousands of people participated in a silent march that stretched across miles of Seattle streets Friday, for a statewide general strike to honor Black lives lost to police brutality and to demand action against systemic racism.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Thousands of people, stretched across miles of Seattle streets, marched in the rain Friday for a statewide general strike. Some businesses also closed, a show of solidarity as protests against systemic racism continue across the country.

From left, Justice Mary I. Yu, Chief Justice Debra Stephens, and Justice G. Helen Whitener
Washington Supreme Court

The state Supreme Court issued a letter earlier this month calling on the legal profession, themselves included, to do the hard work of addressing systemic racism. 

People work to dry off large letters that read "Black Lives Matter" painted on a street near Cal Anderson Park, Thursday, June 11, 2020, inside what is being called the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Just a few days ago, parts of Seattle were choked by tear gas, but with the Seattle Police Department’s apparent abandonment of its East Precinct on Monday, what has come to be called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) has grown over a few blocks in the neighborhood.

Protesters rest on the sidewalk in Seattle after getting hit with tear gas during a protest.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Health officials and care providers are urging people who have attended large protests to get tested for the coronavirus.

It’s still unclear whether the large-scale demonstrations in recent weeks will cause a new wave of COVID-19.

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

UPDATE, June 10: Gov. Jay Inslee says he's convinced the Pierce County Sheriff's Department can't lead the investigation into Manuel Ellis' death. The governor is working with Attorney General Bob Ferguson to decide how the investigation will proceed. Read the latest developments here

The family of Manuel Ellis has released a new video from the night Ellis was killed in police custody. Their attorney says it shows a man "begging for his life." 

Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Crowds gathered Sunday for a major march in Seattle’s most racially diverse area. Protesters assembled at Othello Park in the city’s Rainier Beach neighborhood to demand an end to police violence and systemic racism, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. KNKX asked people at the "We Want To Live" march and rally what it feels like to be part of this moment. 

A protester raises a fist in the air during a peaceful arts march in Seattle this week.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Audio Pending...

It's been about a week since protests began in Western Washington over the death of George Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis. The events of the past several days have brought up pain and anger, and a lot of reckoning.

Our reporters have heard chants, watched marches and listened to the voices of protesters, police and politicians. Listen back to some of what KNKX has gathered over the last week — the sounds of communities in our area that have had enough.

House Speaker Pro-tem Rep. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, presides over the Washington House, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

State Rep. John Lovick spent more than 30 years in uniform with the Washington State Patrol. He was the Snohomish County sheriff and then the county executive. He's also Black, and he grew up in Louisiana in the 1950s and 60s.

And he’s been watching and listening to the chants and the voices and the protests we've seen in Washington state and around the country over the last several days. 

He told KNKX All Things Considered host Ed Ronco that he still believes that America’s soul can be redeemed. Hear an extended version of their conversation, below.

A friend of Manuel Ellis, who died in the custody of Tacoma police in March, holds a sign demanding justice after Ellis' death was ruled a homicide. Four officers involved are now on leave.
Will James / KNKX

Nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis are hitting home especially hard in Tacoma, after the Pierce County medical examiner ruled the death of Manuel Ellis a homicide. In March, Ellis died in handcuffs while Tacoma police restrained him. The cause of death was respiratory arrest. 

Jamika Scott is an organizer who has worked with Ellis' family to bring attention to his death. 

Hundreds gathered at a vigil Wednesday night to remember Manuel Ellis, who died March 3 in the custody of Tacoma police officers. His death has been ruled a homicide by the Pierce County medical examiner, and the officers have been placed on leave.
Joel Schomberg/Longhouse Media

Marcia Carter says she cried for two months and 10 days, waiting for answers about the death of her son, Manuel Ellis. This week, she got some. But now the family is left with even more questions. 

“We want answers,” Carter said Thursday, outside the Pierce County Superior Court, flanked by representatives from the regional chapter of the NAACP and the activist group Tacoma Action Collective. “No more talking.” 

Four Tacoma police officers were placed on administrative leave Wednesday, after a report from the Pierce County medical examiner became public. It ruled Ellis’ death a homicide, caused by a lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. Ellis died in police custody during an arrest in South Tacoma on March 3.

A demonstrator holds up a sign in front of police and National Guard members in Seattle on June 2, 2020 during a protest over the death of George Floyd.
Shauna Sowersby / KNKX

After five days of protest against police brutality and racism, activists continue marching the streets of Seattle and Tacoma. 

In Seattle, hundreds of people flooded the streets of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood on Tuesday.

The Seattle arts community gathered Tuesday for a peaceful march protesting police brutality and systemic racism, after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Parker Miles Blohm / KNKX

Members of the arts community in Seattle are joining in the protests against the killing of George Floyd. Hundreds gathered Tuesday near the Seattle Opera House.

As musicians, painters, actors and others chanted “Black Lives Matter,” cars and trucks drove by honking their support.