Representative speakers of Black Collective Voice:
Statement overview, as read by Nas:
Greetings to all those who are oppressed. Greetings to those in pursuits of liberation of black lives. Greetings to our allies in Minneapolis, Paris, Palestine, and across the world. Greetings to the Black House Autonomous Zone.
First, I want to thank our ancestors for this moment and take the opportunity to thank the original caretakers of this land who are still here today. The land on which we stand today is the traditional home of the Coast Salish People. This is the traditional home of all the tribes and bands within the Duwamish, Suquamish, Tulalip, and Muckleshoot Nations. I stand here in solidarity with our Indigenous allies. Black liberation cannot be achieved without justice for Indigenous People. Their struggle is our struggle.
A couple of weeks ago [Harriet Tubman Foundation for Safe Passage] launched a survey at CHOP while we hosted a teaching. The survey was for CHOP protesters and what we found is that … chop protesters were looking to volunteer their time and resources to ending systemic racism starting with an end to police brutality. We also found that CHOP protesters were seeking to follow Black voices, so I’m here today to introduce the Black Collective Voice. Today we are reclaiming our narrative. The Black Collective Voice consists of organizers and protesters. We are educators, lawyers, creatives, single parents, business owners, healers, medical professionals, and Capitol Hill residents. We are the people of Seattle.
Today we want to be clear the East Precinct was never the goal of the Black Collective or our allies on the ground at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, better known as CHOP. That is a false narrative. We did not choose the East Precinct or Cal Anderson Park as the epicenter of our work. In fact, the Seattle Police Department chose that location when they terrorized protesters on Pine Street and when they tear gassed residents in their homes. Stewarding and protecting the East Precinct only became possible when the Seattle Police Department left that space. What transpired after that was organic. Gardens grew, medical, food, and security aid was provided, allowing us, the Black Collective, to meet each other and organize, so that we could grow in this movement
We reject the false narrative that protesting police brutality caused the crimes that have always been prevalent at and around Cal Anderson Park. Homelessness, substance abuse, and gun violence are long standing issues in the area, across our city, and across this nation. Governing bodies have continued to fail at resolving these issues despite clear direction from Black, Indigenous, POC community leaders who are represent the communities impacted the most.
It would appear these institutions are more focused on dismantling this movement and getting back to business as usual. I’ve experienced firsthand their attempts to dismantle, distract, undermine, and threaten CHOP every step of the way. They’ve mischaracterized organizers and spun our truth in the media to justify excessive force used by the Seattle Police Department. They’ve used established figures in our community and the Black community to insult and undermine the Black Collective Voice.
We know that these attempts to remove legitimacy from our movement are historical tactics used to destroy the movement for Black liberation Let it be clear… we will not attend meetings where the goal is to buy us off. We are here to dismantle systemic racism. Our shared experience of police brutality and media misrepresentation, instead of generating fear, brought us closer together as a skilled, empowered, and capable community. The truth is, even if they force activists out of CHOP, it will not stop us or this movement. Furthermore, we now stand prepared to mobilize. Utilizing our wide variety of skill sets, we’ve organized to take action through education and collaboration in public areas everywhere.
In the words of Seattle’s own Bruce Lee, “water can flow or it can crash.” The Black Collective Voices choose to flow between spaces, connected and refined. Our Black Collective Voice was born from a long tradition of protest and self-determination on Capitol Hill and now we’re ready for the world. The Black Collective Voice believes that Black lives matter. We know that as Black people continue to acknowledge and step into their greatness, despite all odds, this world will be a better place. This is prophecy. The time is now.
We represent the fight for equality and human rights, including those of Indigenous Peoples, Immigrants, LGBTQ+ communities, and the differently abled. We want all demands of the people to be met. Defund the Seattle Police Department by 50%, use those dollars to fund community restorative justice, housing, and health care, and release all jailed protesters. Until these demands are met, we will continue to organize and strategize the people. Even after those demands are met, we will stay strategizing as a people. We will continue to exercise our First Amendment right and we will not be divided. Protesting is a very personal choice and we recognize that if the people of Seattle choose to hold space at CHOP, Black Collective Voice will be there to educate and empower everyone.
All power to the people.