Friends and supporters marched in Seattle on Thursday to remember a deadly shooting that led to an overhaul of the city’s police department.
It was two years ago that then-Seattle Police Department Officer Ian Birk shot and killed First Nations woodcarver John T. Williams.
On Thursday, Williams’ brother led about 100 supporters on a march to the Seattle Center. That rally ended in the shadow of a Totem Pole that carvers, including Williams’ brother, created in his honor.
“My brother’s blood – my eyes still see it. Stained here because of something silly,” said Rick Williams, John’s brother.
Birk said he feared for his safety when he opened fire on John.
“It hurts,” Rick said. “Ain’t never going to go away. I’d rather keep smiling and shake the hand of the man that shook the world, and that was my brother, John T.”
John’s death helped shake up the Seattle Police Department. Birk resigned, and last December, the U.S. Department of Justice accused the department of engaging in a pattern of “excessive force.”
A consent decree was signed between the feds and city officials at the Federal Courthouse in Seattle just last week, to determine what the department’s overhaul will look like.
“It was a great gift that the Department of Justice gave us,” Rick said. “They justified everything that we knew was going on.”
Rick also called on those assembled at Thursday’s rally to speak up if they see wrong.
“Because if you don’t, it’s always going to be the same, and I’ll see someone else walking on the street, hurt, crying, torn apart,” Rick said. “The badge don’t care.”
He promised to keep speaking up himself to make sure what happened to his brother doesn’t happen again.