• Protesters against new youth jail march, block streets in downtown Seattle

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    SEATTLE - Activists against a new youth jail in Seattle are locked together, marching through downtown Seattle and blocking streets.

    On Friday morning around 8:30 a.m., the roughly two dozen protesters, with about five locked, closed an intersection Fourth Avenue and James Street in front of King County Executive Dow Constantine's office. 

    >> PHOTOS: Protesters against youth jail locked together in street

    The dramatic scene led traffic leaders to close streets, which clogged I-5 and I-90. Nearly two hours later, supporters of the No New Youth Jail campaign began marching through downtown at 10:30 a.m. They stopped again around noon, blocking Fifth Avenue and Stewart Street.

    Around 2 p.m., protesters dispersed.


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    The protesters' arms -- which are inside metal tubes -- are locked together so that police will have to cut them open if they plan on taking them to jail. 

    Activists against a new youth jail in Seattle are locked together in the middle of a busy downtown Seattle intersection, making a dramatic scene Friday morning.

    Other protesters are holding signs and singing. Some read, "Dow: Your jail is racist," "white silence = violence," "build new homes, not jails," "Dow, you can do better," "stop caging kids," and "cancel the jail."

    Protesters say they want Constantine to put a stop to the construction of the new youth jail and courts at 12th and Alder, which the county says is desperately needed because the current facility is deteriorating.  

    But activists say the current jail is only 25 years old and that a county analysis of the facility said it was "generally in good condition."  

    >> SLIDESHOW: Renderings show what new juvenile detention center will look like

    They say the construction is a “unnecessary, harmful, and undeniably racist jail building project,” reasoning that youth jails disproportionately affect black children.

    The group offers no alternative to a youth detention center. It only says it wants to "change the conversation about youth imprisonment" and wants the county to adopt a goal of zero detention young people.

    Activists against a new youth jail in Seattle are locked together in the middle of a busy downtown Seattle intersection, making a dramatic scene Friday morning.

    Protesters say they have been fighting the construction for the last five years and that the group is backed by more than 60 organizations.

    The facility will cost about $210 million to build. The group says that King County voters were misled when they were voting for the new youth jail.

    Alex Fryer, Director of Communications for the Office of King County Executive Dow Constantine, released the following statement on Friday:

    "Through a purposeful 20 year effort, King County has reduced the juvenile detention population by more than 70 percent, and we are working on multiple fronts to keep reducing it. We are innovating with new alternatives to detention such as Family Intervention and Restorative Services (FIRS) -- programs proven to divert youth of color from the justice system and toward supportive programs and mentors. King County is committed to employing a public health approach and therapeutic options to provide the best chance at prevention and redemption. When the Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) opens in 2020, its Resource Center and expanded space for supportive programs will connect even more youth and families to community-based services."


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