Several of you contacted me via email after you saw live coverage on Sunday of a pro-Trump group called Patriot Prayer demonstrating in Westlake Park downtown. Patriot Prayer is a right-wing group that targets progressive cities like Seattle and Portland, hoping to stir up trouble. This demonstration had been planned before the tragic events in Charlottesville and was allowed to go forward. The right-wing group of about 200 was countered by about 1000 pro-peace protesters, carrying signs against hate, the KKK, and white supremacists. As the two groups attempted to converge, Seattle Police in riot gear mobilized on city streets to keep them apart.
You wanted to know if I was OK, and how far I live away from the turmoil. I appreciate the concern.
Seattle is a compact city. I live about 15 minutes from the confrontation, but was home when it happened. On Saturday, I walked right through Westlake on my way back from some downtown shopping, but on Sunday I was at a safe distance. Life pretty much went on as usual in the rest of the city, and indeed a friend and I went out for happy hour about 5pm in the afternoon, near my apartment and well away from any lingering turmoil.
Seattle has a lot of demonstrations of one sort or another, and Seattle PD is skilled at managing them — skills hard won after the 1999 WTO protests called the Battle in Seattle caused considerable damage. Fortunately, Sunday’s dual protests were well managed. Seattle PD kept the two groups apart, and finally everyone dispersed more or less without incident. Given how quickly these things can spiral out of control, I think Seattle PD did a masterful job.
I fear we’re in for more of this as long as Trump is in the White House. All day long on Sunday pundits were calling for him to denounce white supremacy. He isn’t going to do it — these are his people. He’s given them license to act out, goaded them to — and now they are.