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Seattle: Rally for victims of police terror

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Seattle, WA – Protesters and community members rallied at Dexter Avenue N and Thomas Street in the late afternoon of January 29 to call for justice for Tyre Nichols, Jaahnavi Kandula and all victims of police violence.

Eighty people gathered at the rally organized by the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and held at the intersection where Jaahnavi Kandula was killed by a speeding police vehicle. 

“We hate that we have to be out here again and again, but we still don’t have justice for those killed by police terror,” said Clio Jensen, an organizer with SAARPR.

On January 23 a Seattle police officer hit 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula at high speed while responding to a suspected overdose with paramedics already on site. SPD has refused to release the name of the officer, fire the officer, or provide any clarity up to this point.

Seattle PD has engaged in cover-ups and denials of justice before. At the rally, Castill Hightower shared the story of her brother Herbert’s murder by the Seattle Police Department in 2004 and her family’s continued fight for justice and change. “Stop killing us! Stop harming us! Stop refusing to hold these officers accountable,” said Hightower, speaking to the crowd of protesters. 

 SAARPR members read a statement from Rose Johnson, mother of Ryan Matthew Smith, who was shot and killed by SPD in 2019. “I tried tirelessly to get justice for Ryan. With no success. I hope Jaahnavi’s parents and family get justice for her. A beautiful precious soul taken from them in such a senseless manner.” Smith’s killer continues to work for SPD, and the city has stymied all efforts for accountability and transparency. 

“Justice for Tyre!” chanted protesters, calling for justice for Tyre Nichols who was beaten to death by five Memphis, Tennessee police officers on January 7. The horrific video of Tyre’s killing was made public on January 27, sparking protests across the country.

On January 18, Manny “Tortuguita” Paez was killed by Georgia State Troopers while protesting against the construction of “Cop City,” a proposed police headquarters to be built in Atlanta Forest. “Say his name! Tortuguita!” chanted the crowd.

Other community members came to share their stories of police abuse. “I was strangled by the police,” said Victoria Pacho, sharing her experiences as a survivor of police violence. “They put their full weight on my neck. There’s so much pain, and you cannot scream. And the city does nothing to support victims.” 

“The end goal is abolition. We just need a tool to get us there,” says Mantak Singh from the Progressive Student Union at the University of Washington. “Community control of the police, through a civilian police accountability council, is the best way to achieve that.”

Throughout the evening, protesters demanded the release of footage related to Jaahnavi’s killing, the identification and firing of the driving officer, safer streets for all pedestrians, justice for Tyre Nichols, justice for Manny “Tortuguita” Paez, justice for all victims of police violence, and community control of the Seattle Police Department. “Enough is enough, we need to take back control for the people,” said Mantak Singh.


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