By Chloe Collyer, May 4, 2021
May Day is a historic and celebrated day for Seattle to honor its labor movement. This May 1, at Volunteer Park, a few runners and dog walkers passed by a group of “Black Bloc” protesters carrying handmade signs and East African flags. Black Bloc, the term used to describe the black-clad protesters usually associated with anti-capitalist, anarchist movements, was defined by one park-goer as “people who just want to smash something,” but the sincerity of their cause on Saturday was clear: They were there to protest the genocide taking place in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
Whether you call it a civil war, ethnic repression, or genocide, it’s clear people are suffering. Millions of Tigrayans have lost their jobs, faced violence and drone strikes, or been thrown out of refugee camps by the Ethiopian government and simply scattered across the countryside. First-hand reports describe sexual violence being used as a daily weapon of war. International aid has been cut off. It is, by all accounts, a nightmare.
Also in attendance on Saturday were members of Seattle’s East African communities, calling for a boycott of Starbucks, freedom for political prisoners in Ethiopia, and a “voice for the voiceless.”
“We would not be able to speak like this back home,” said one participant.