Juneteenth: From port work stoppage to neighborhood marches

SEATTLE — When people filled Seattle streets to protest in recent weeks, Dmarkis Wigfall was one of them.

“I was going to Capitol Hill. I was going to the Central District, and then I’d go home in the Green Lake area, and it would be like nothing’s going on,” Wigfall said. “People will go to the urban center to do all the protesting when actually the conversation needs to be at our homes, in our suburbs. Not just in our homes but in our family circles, our friendship circles.”

So Wigfall, who works at the Rudy’s Barbershop in Ballard, organized a Justice for Black Lives March on Friday Juneteenth. It began at the West Woodland Park Playground at 10 a.m. and continued through Ballard until 2 p.m.

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Wigfall says the march came from friends asking him about recent events that prompted the demonstrations. Some white friends even apologized.

“They’re like, ‘What can I do?’ Actually, what I need you to do is talk to your white friends, white family members and ask them why do they hate black people so much. Why is this happening? (Why) is racism such a big issue?” Wigfall said.

On Friday, dockworkers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will stop work at 29 ports on the West Coast.

“This is a historic action because it’s going to be the first time any labor organization has taken any action to stop work on Juneteenth, " said Gabriel Prawl, past president of ILWU Local 52. “There’s a difference between a movement and a moment. A moment means we do something for a day and its over. A movement requires sacrifice, and that’s what we’re doing as longshoremen. We’re sacrificing our day’s wages to make this happen.”

Participants met at ILWU Local 19 at 3440 E. Marginal Way S. at 9 a.m. and march to Terminal 46 for a rally.

“We have a slogan that an injury to one is an injury to all,” said longshoreman Julia Bump. “For me, that is big. That means we stand together. We are united, and the world should be united together. We can make this change and that’s huge.”

A rally is also underway at Judkins Park in Seattle. The Next Steps Rally is focused on what comes after the protests and marches demanding police accountability.