“I’m Scared to Be a Black Male Walking Down the Street”: Seattle Teens on Why They Skipped School for a #Ferguson March

“We all just left class. As soon as 11:00 came, we stood up and walked out of class. Together as one.”

On Tuesday, students from Seattle’s Garfield High School walked out of their classes, receiving unexcused absences. Members of the Black Student Union at Garfield made an announcement in the morning that they were joining the march, which was organized by the United Black Clergy and the local chapter of the NAACP.

The students joined protesters and together they walked to the federal courthouse, shouting, “Hands up! Don't shoot!” and holding signs reading “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop the War on Black Youth.” This was the second demonstration in Seattle after Monday’s grand jury decision to not indict Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.

“I feel super hurt. But also inspired, energized, ready to go.”

After students from Nova High School joined the solidarity walk, about half of the marchers in the crowd were youth.

Demonstrators talked to YES! about their desire to protect youth and amplify their voices. Mothers walked for their children, while others were inspired by the young people speaking out on behalf of their peers—like Mike Brown.

Meet a few of them in the lightly edited interviews below.

Zac Mohamed
Garfield High School

Zac Mohamed

From left - Gerume Malaku and Zak Mohamed.

“I’m kind of sad and frustrated. There’s no justice, no peace. I like the protest. It sends a strong message that this is not OK. Everyone here are most of my peers from Garfield. We skipped class.”

Will Washington

Will Washington

“I’m inspired to see the youth out here, taking action. It gives me a lot of hope to see the young people taking on a lot of struggle. It’s time that we are all in this together. We’ve got to turn things around.”

Matt Caldwell
Garfield High School

Matt Caldwell

“I feel like we need to help. You shouldn’t shoot anyone six times. This is why I’m here.

“There was an announcement over the intercom. Someone from the Black Student Union came up and talked about how we were going to have a little bit of time in the commons, the big lunchroom, to talk about what happened. They said that it was important for us to march to get our voices heard.”

Antasia Parker (aka Militant Child)

Antasia Parker

“I feel super hurt. But also inspired, energized, ready to go. I know we need a change. We need a more revolutionary program. Nothing is going to change unless we change it fundamentally, because built in the fabric of this nation is a commitment and dedication to use human beings as collateral for capital.

“Black lives and Native American lives have been targeted and pinpointed—Latinos and Latinas too—across the board. We’ve got to come together and fight and change what’s happening or continue to be victims.”

Colleen Carey

Colleen Carey

“I’m angry, but I’m trying to be intelligent about exercising my first amendment rights. I see a lot of teenagers who have voices, who are not breaking anything, who are behaving responsibly, and are outraged. Not just by this. There is a sign over there that says, ‘Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Ferguson.’

“We all know what’s happening in every city around the country. I think the American population is sick and tired of seeing young people fall victim to police brutality and excessive force. It’s important to focus not on the problem but on the solution. And this is one way to be more visible about finding solutions.”

“I want to grab people from off the street, tell everyone ‘Come on, come on, we have to say something.’ If we don’t say anything, this is just going to keep happening.”

Christian Bossett, Niyani Clemente, and David Morgan
Garfield High School

From left - David Morgan, Niyani Clemente, and Christian Bossett.

Bossett: I feel happy. I feel empowered seeing all these people.

Clemente: I feel really empowered.

"My mom is looking at me seeing that I’m scared because I’m a black male walking down the street..."

Bossett: We all just left class. As soon as 11:00 came, we stood up and walked out of class. Together as one.

Clemente: The teachers supported it.

Bossett: Some teachers did. Some teachers.

Clemente: We all got marked absent.

Morgan: I don’t care. It’s for a good cause. Mark me absent. Go ahead.

YES!: Why did you come out today?

Bossett: Because of the injustice that we are all facing here. My mom is looking at me seeing that I’m scared because I’m a black male walking down the street; anytime I can get shot by a cop. So it empowers me—coming down here to see this.

Dedre Parker

Dedre Parker

“It could be your child, it could be my child. We shouldn’t cry about it when it’s our child. We should be working to make systemic changes all along.

"We got to get black people ... to vote because that is how we make change in America."

“When it comes to black people in the court system, and in the Midwest and the South, we just don’t have fairness in the judges, and legal representation. In Seattle, we have our racism, it might not be as overt as down there, but down there you can walk out your door and anything can happen.

“But out here you will be accountable for it. We got to get black people to understand how important it is to vote because that is how we make change in America. I’m here for that, because I just feel we’re not doing our part in voting.”

Isaac Mariscao
Nova High School

Isaac Mariscao

“It’s pretty powerful: All these different schools getting together for the same purpose. We don’t want more children to be killed. My sign says ‘Murderer of Mexico,’ and it has an image of the president of Mexico. It has two different murders: Atenco and Ayotzinapa.

“Atenco happened in 2006, when this guy was the was governor of Mexico City. He sent police to oppress the city of Atenco. And Ayotzinapa is a city in Guerrero where 43 students were missing. They got abducted by the government.”