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Seattle Protestors Close Freeway For Four Hours


On Saturday, January 6th, residents of Seattle, WA, USA took to the streets in a pro-Palestine protest. 


The demonstration was organized by the Seattle chapter of Samidoun, an organization that advocates for the liberation of Palestinian prisoners. Communication was primarily on their instagram, calling all protestors to meet at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery at 12pm, which is when the protest began. 


Starbucks has been under criticism and calls for boycott since suing their union for making Pro-Palestine posts on X. Throughout the duration of Saturday’s protest there was still graffiti on the Starbucks’ store that amplified this criticism of the company. (Figure 1)


Figure 1: Graffiti on Starbucks Reserve Roastery

While this graffiti may be from a previous incident, Pro-Palestinian protesters remain critical of the company and chose their store in Capitol Hill as a meeting location. 

There were still opposing points on the initial meeting location of the protest. For example, one instagram user stated that the protest should be at the Starbucks headquarters instead of the Roastery. 


Another user took the stance that news coverage is important to the cause. They stated that McDonalds or Zara would have also been good protest locations as those companies have expressed pro-israel sentiments, while understanding the counterargument that Starbucks is a symbol of Seattle and protesting in such a symbolic location would garner the much needed news coverage. 



Surely enough, the local news station did cover the protest while making it clear that the protestors were demanding a ceasefire in gaza. Protestors’ signs and chants echoed the full list of the demands, which were also previously cross-posted on other supporting organizations such as the Seattle chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Students United for Palestinian Equality and Return (SUPER) at the University of Washington. 


The full list of demands are as follows: 

“Immediate ceasefire and end to the siege on Gaza

End to the occupation of Palestine

Stop all U.S aid to Israel

Free all Palestinian prisoners

Land back”


The march moved from the Roastery towards I-5, with a group of protestors using olive way to march onto the freeway. The rest of the crowd, the protestors who did not head onto the freeway, flooded the overpasses on Melrose Ave and Denny way.(Figure 2) The organizers and protestors agree that the point of disruptive action such as road closures was to make a point that the citizens will not go about “business as usual” under genocide. 


Figure 2: Melrose Ave

Protestors on Melrose Ave at 4:11pm


The protestors’ chants included but were not limited to:


“Biden, Biden, you can’t hide, 

We charge you with genocide

Biden, Biden, you will see

Palestine will be free”


“From the river to the sea

Palestine will be free

From the sea to the river

Palestine will live forever”


“In millions, and billions

We’re all Palestinians,”


And many other chants echoing their support for Palestine and their condemnation for Israel’s violence and America’s funding for it. 


Seattle Police Department issued a dispersal order at around 3:40pm. Many of SPD’s followers called for arrests, and even forceful measures to do so. At 4:45 the protestors complied with the order and joined the rest of the crowd. At 5pm promptly, the protest organizer stated that the drivers had abandoned their cars, and the event died down. 


Other residents of the city support the cause even if they weren’t able to attend. 


“A public transit worker showed great solidarity this morning, I almost missed the bus and he stopped for me and said ‘yeah, I figured you were going to the protest,’” states a local engineer in attendance who chose to remain anonymous. “The most patriotic thing you can do is use your first amendment!” she continued. 


Samidoun Seattle confirmed that no arrests were made, while Kiro 7 News stated that that could change as the police are still investigating this incident.


Although this protest may have been an inconvenience to some, it was a benefit to others as the crowds supported local businesses, especially after the protest dispersed. (Figure 3)


Figure 3: Yalla


People lining up for food at Yalla, a local Middle Eastern restaurant. 


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