“A surge of violence and hate are around us,” Annelah Afzali said into the microphone, more than 1,000 people were packed in, the crowd was now spilling out the doors of the gym and into hallways. Afzali is the Executive Director of the Muslim Association of Puget Sound (MAPS). Vandals have hit her organization’s Seattle-area headquarters twice since the election.
My friend Stephanie and I sat among the crowd for the Martin Luther King Junior Day rally at Garfield High School (which is in Seattle, which is the seat of King County, which is named in remembrance of Martin Luther King Junior).
We listened as our Mayor Ed Murray, two congress members, county council members and others followed Afzali at the podium and called for action. They said things like:
“Our next president comes closest to being a neo-fascist than any president before,” and
“We will not back down from police reform! We will lead the way on race equity! We will lead the way on gender equity! We in this room know what we have to do, organize and resist!”
This Martin Luther King Junior Day event felt full of electricity and people eager to face
the incoming administration with resistance. Nearly everyone who held the mic said this year’s crowd was bigger than any they’d seen before. And, the march through the streets of Seattle was to follow, so countless more would be joining.
Congress Member Pramila Jayapal is my U.S. representative and she’s only two weeks into her first term. She took the stage, announcing she will protest the inauguration of Trump by not attending. Her colleague, Congress Member Adam Smith from Seattle was there too, he also announced he’ll not be attending inauguration. Smith told the crowd that everyone in the room “must resist!”.
Most leaders who spoke praised President Obama and Representative John Lewis, a civil rights hero who Trump has attacked via Twitter the past few days. I especially liked this Twitter response from Representative Lewis:
Estela Ortega, Executive Director of Seattle’s El Centro de la Raza rallied the crowd to cheer and stomp so loud that it shook the bleachers I was sitting on. In her speech, she called for people to band together and resist, “Be prepared for civil disobedience on a scale like we saw at Standing Rock!”
Here’s the video I shot during that part of Ortega’s speech: