Protesters Scare Children, Interrupt Christmas Celebration and Intimidate Black Friday Shoppers

Over the last week or two I’ve taken a bit of a beating in emails and comments for sometimes seeming to soft on the Ferguson protests. I understand the passions are running high and folks on either side don’t like when someone like me chooses not to pick a side, but rather point out that both sides have valid points. I stand by that…

However, today I am going to speak out specifically against those protesting the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

I am going to focus on some recent events that took place in Seattle, Washington. The Westlake Mall in Seattle has an annual Black Friday tradition of mixing Black Friday with a Christmas Celebration that includes a tree lighting and children’s choir, among other events. It is a wonderful event for families to come celebrate, shop and enjoy the season…

But not this year.

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No, this year the festivities were DESTROYED by Seattleites protesting the situation in Ferguson. The protesters forced the mall to close four hours early, they terrified the children’s choir – even driving many of the children to tears – and they did their best to ruin the day for everyone.

Here’s what Seattle journalist Mark King said about what he saw…

Some of you may know that tonight’s tree lighting at Westlake Center was cut short by protesters. I feel really bad for a group of children from the 5th Avenue Theater. They came tonight, excited to sing. When the protesters overtook the balcony, the children were absolutely terrified. I helped usher them to the far end of the balcony where they would be safe. They huddled with their chaperones and each other, some of them crying, until police got the protesters out of there. As a journalist, I’m absolutely in favor of the right to free speech. This was not free speech tonight. The protesters appear to simply want to disrupt, and in doing so, traumatized some beautiful young kids.



The local news report from Seattle captured the chaos, I dare you to watch this and NOT get angry at the outrageous behavior from the mob of protesters.


I think that we should all support the right of our fellow citizens to dissent, to speak out and to peacefully assemble in public places. The mall is not a public place, it is owned by a private company and the space within is rented to businesses. The streets outside the mall? Fair game.

However, my question goes a little further than “where” they were protesting… my question is “what do you hope to accomplish by protesting?”

Most protests are designed to make grievances known and then to change minds on certain issues. Do the protesters really believe that what they did in Seattle (and what they are doing in Ferguson) is changing minds? This is very much unlike the protests of the Civil Rights era – those protests were to change established law and enact legislation to produce certain results. These protests have not made any kind of similar claim. The protesters have focused their energy on Michael Brown – a young man, who, the evidence shows, forcibly robbed a convenience store and then attacked a police officer before being killed. Not really the best symbol of racism, oppression or police extravagance.


(Which isn’t to say that these things don’t exist… just that the Michael Brown example is a poor one.)


If protesters want to affect change in prison reform, the war on drugs, police protocol, etc… they need to change tactics. First, they need to say these things clearly. Storming a mall and chanting “No Justice, No Peace” or wearing signs that say “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” accomplish NOTHING. Burning buildings, looting stores and flipping over cars – accomplishes NOTHING.

However, a peaceful march which ends on the Capitol steps where a series of speeches are given by community and political leaders about the benefits of prison reform, the problems with the war on drugs, and the need for police officers to wear cameras… that could actually change some minds.

Some other profitable ideas? Hold community town hall meetings to discuss these issues. Ask to speak at local club and community halls about these things. Engage your local public officials to come and hear your group’s grievances. This is how democracy works; this is how a republic works.

Thus far, all the protesters in Ferguson (and now Seattle) have accomplished is angering the very people whose minds they need to change. That’s not progress -that’s just stupid.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

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