Bethanie Mitchell

Documentary Photographer
George Floyd Protests in Seattle, Washington
Location: Seattle,Washington
Nationality: American
Biography: Bethanie Mitchell is an documentary photographer, visual journalist, educator, and author currently residing in Seattle, Washington. She has long been interested in colonialism, conflict, insurgency, and non-state actors. These interests compelled... read on
Public Story
George Floyd Protests in Seattle, Washington
Copyright bethanie mitchell 2021
Updated 09/11/20
    Seattle, Washington saw some of the most active protests in the United States in regard to the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota by the police officer Derek Chauvin. .  The protests spread across the globe challenging police accountability, funding, and systemic racism all during the COVID 19 global pandemic.  Citizens came out of quarantine to protest despite the dangerous health conditions.  
    The use of tear gas and less lethal weapons during the protests caused citizens to question the excessive use of force for crowd control by police.  Seattle police hadn’t used tear gas since the protests during the World Trade Organizations Ministerial Conference in 1999.  The city became an epicenter for protestors demands, starting in the downtown area.  Over the course of the Seattle protests, activist communities and individuals splintered off from the greater downtown movement, conducting protests in different locations throughout the city..  A diverse range of protestors and protests communicated various demands and concerns, additionally, rioters broke off from peaceful protests violating businesses and public property.  
    The message of overcoming racism and police brutality expanded into a campaign for taxing Seattle’s own  The desire for community funded programs to take precedence over Seattle’s police force, started a campaign for the defunding of the Seattle Police Department.  One tactic used by protesters in the Capitol Hill area of the city was to take over the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct.  Through this action, they turned the surrounding area into a community named the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), which later changed its name to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).  Activists stayed in tents in Cal Anderson Park and the community had its own medics, and garden.  Free food and clothing were distributed by the No Cop Co-op.  Teach in’s were conducted, as were community discussion meetings in an area named the Decolonization Conversation Cafe.  The CHOP was dissolved on July 1, 2020 after negotiations and talks occurred between the city and activists.
    Beyond the CHOP, other ways to organize or conduct protests took place with different outcomes.  The Official Black Lives Matter March of Silence and We Want to Live March saw no looting or violence, while hand sanitizer and PPE were handed out by volunteers. The common theme was the Seattle protests along with the rest of the country saw the most ethnically and economically diverse protests against racism and police brutality the United States has ever seen.  

More of my work from the protests can be viewed or licensed through SIPA Press.  

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