In a Saturday afternoon event that drew more than 250 participants of all ages, Edmonds Youth for Equality staged a peaceful but vocal march through downtown Edmonds aimed at driving home the issues of social justice and Black Lives Matter.
Led by Edmonds residents Mikayla Weary and a fellow organizer who asked to only be identified at Rowan, the marchers proceeded up Main Street from Brackett’s Landing, energized by repeated chants of “Which lives matter? Black lives matter,” and reciting the litany of names of those who have been killed and victimized by systemic racism, from Emmett Till to Breonna Taylor.
The marchers went around the barricades set up for Walkable Main Street, proceeding around the fountain toward the Edmonds Historical Museum.
The march was followed by additional activities including creation of chalk art and a rally with speeches.
Speaking to the crowd, Mikayla Weary explained that the group intentionally chose the Edmonds Historical Museum as the rally location, noting that “housing and redlining pretty much explain how Edmonds is Edmonds today.”
“Edmonds is made up of a majority of upper class white residents and that is not coincidental. This is a part of history that prohibited minority residents from the day it was founded,” she said.
Much of Edmonds’ history regarding racism is unknown, but recent actions prove it still exists, she said. Weary specifically pointed to the vandalizing in July of the “I Can’t Breathe” artwork at Civic Field and the incident two years ago near Harvey’s Lounge, when Weary and her older brother were “chased off the property…while being called the n-word.”
Christabel Jamison, an 18-year-old Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate who created the “I Can’t Breathe” art said the defacement of her artwork so it read “I Can Breathe” — “just goes to show us what someone in our town is willing to do in order to snuff out our pain and outrage, which in reality is their attempt to keep their comfortable level of ignorance and privilege, by ignoring and discrediting the injustices and systemic racism that we have fought for centuries.”
“I am flat out tired of seeing Black men and women being abused and killed by police,”Jamison said, “while their murderers go home to a nice warm dinner and are allowed to go to work the next day.”
Also speaking was Mikayla Weary’s mother Darnesha Weary, who urged those who support the Black Lives Matter movement to be vocal, stand up for injustices, and hold friends and family “accountable for their racist actions, for their words, for their jokes.”
Rather than go home and post on social media after observing an incident of racial injustice, she encouraged those in the crowd to act while the event is happening — “Walk up and say ‘How can I help?” she said.
“Do the work. That’s the level we’re asking you for,” Darnesha Weary added.
— Story by Larry Vogel and Teresa Wippel