Eighteen protesters are locked together in front of three entrances for the new Children and Family Justice Center as it undergoes construction.
“King County is making the wrong decision by continuing to invest in harmful systems,” activist Dean Spade, 40, said. Spade and other protesters have been singing and chanting outside the construction sites since 7:30 this morning.
The activists, or No New Youth Jail Coalition (NNYJC), say today’s action marks the beginning of the “People’s Moratorium” on construction for the new Children and Family Justice Center. Last week, the same group of activists wrote to King County Executive Dow Constantine asking him to stop construction himself.
Activists say they’ve shut down construction at the site, but some construction workers had evidently made it through and were continuing to work. In early March, a group of protesters affiliated with the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (CARW) and European Dissent locked down in the middle of intersections on Fourth Ave in downtown Seattle, outside of Constantine’s office.
Voters approved a $210 million levy to fund the construction of a new juvenile justice facility, including a jail that would hold 154 beds, in 2012. But after activists challenged the language of the levy, a Thurston County appeals court partially overturned the ballot measure last year. (As I wrote previously, the court found that the ballot measure did not authorize the county to calculate its tax rate based on the increased tax rate in the first year of the levy.) King County has appealed the higher court’s ruling, and now the fight will go to the state Supreme Court.