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'12th Man Can't Breathe' Protesters Target Seahawks Game

Several hundred demonstrators gathered outside Seattle’s CenturyLink Field Sunday just as the Seahawks game against the San Francisco 49ers was getting underway. The crowd chanted "Twelfth man can't breathe! Twelfth man can't breathe!" They were protesting recent police shootings of unarmed black civilians in Ferguson and elsewhere.

Demonstrator Kim Thomas said she's been involved in multiple Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle.

Although protesters were not trying to stop people from enjoying the game, she said the overarching goal was to remind people of what she called the epidemic of murders of unarmed black men and women.

Protesters want to “disrupt the normalcy of life, because things like shooting a 12-year-old in a park for holding a fake gun, that’s not normal, that’s not a legitimate way to live your life," said Thomas. She was referring to Tamir Rice who was shot and killed by a Cleveland police officer last month after displaying a toy gun.

The demonstration partially blocked a busy thoroughfare west of CenturyLink Field, just as a tens of thousands of Seahawks fans were arriving for the game. Some fans said they supported the protesters' views.

“I agree with a lot of it,” said Stacy Walker. “It’s nice they are peaceful, they are just chanting and letting people know what they think, they aren’t hurting anyone. I like it.”

“I guess it’s time for a change,” added her husband Cody Walker.

But others screamed profanities at demonstrators and some threatened violence. 

“I just think it’s stupid,” said a fan who only gave her first name, Tori. “They are not getting their point across, so what’s the point?”

Another fan said protesters were hypocritical because they don't protest when blacks kill each other.

“So they don’t care. When it’s a black on black killing, it’s no big deal. When there is a white on black killing, there is an outrage. I have a problem with that,” said the man, who declined to give his name.

Seattle police on bicycles encircled the demonstrators. After the Seahawks game began, the protesters marched through Pioneer Square and ended at Seattle City Hall.

Thousands of demonstrators protested across the nation this weekend from Washington, DC, to San Francisco. 

Year started with KUOW: 2005