A Seattle Driver Plowed Into Black Lives Matter Protesters, One of Whom Died

Illustration for article titled A Seattle Driver Plowed Into Black Lives Matter Protesters, One of Whom Died
Photo: David Ryder (Getty Images)

In yet another disturbing example of vehicular violence against Black Lives Matter activists over the past six weeks, a man struck two protesters with his car in Seattle this weekend, killing one of them.

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In the early hours of Saturday morning, Dawit Kelete drove around the vehicles blocking entry onto Interstate 5 and sped towards the participants of that night’s Black Femme March, the Associated Press reports. Black Lives Matter protesters had shut down the interstate for nearly three weeks at that point, something Kelete, a longtime resident of Seattle, might have been aware of.

After striking two protesters (disturbing footage of the hit and run has been shared on social media), Kelete fled the scene. He was eventually arrested by Washington State Patrol Troopers and booked at Kings County Correctional Facility on two counts of vehicular assault. His second court hearing has been scheduled for Monday.

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One of the two protesters, Summer Taylor, died Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center, a hospital spokesperson confirmed to the AP. Taylor, 24, was “a bright and caring person” who worked at a veterinary clinic in Seattle, according to a GoFundMe set up by their friends. Diaz Love, the second individual struck by Kelete, remains in intensive care.

Kelete’s reasons for driving onto a closed highway are not known at this time. But the violence recalls many similar instances over the past few weeks wherein drivers—including police officers—have weaponized their vehicles against Black Lives Matter protesters.

The details of the possibly politically motivated Seattle hit and run also call to mind James Alex Fields, Jr., the neo-Nazi who plowed his car into antifascist counterprotesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville three years ago, murdering Heather Heyer and injuring 35 others.

Freelance journalist (GQ, Esquire, Out, elsewhere), here on weekends

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DISCUSSION

Why is the language in the headline so weirdly passive? It feels like whoever wrote it took pains to avoid saying “driver killed protester” or “driver murdered protester”. Even if you have to throw an “allegedly” in there, that seems like a more accurate way to describe what happened. This almost makes it sound like the attack and the death are unrelated.