Seattle Buddhist Peace Fellowship Sits
Before Black Friday Black Lives Matter Protests

Written by: Steve Wilhelm

Elaine Waller-Rose, foreground, a social worker sitting with the group, called it “something beautiful.”

Elaine Waller-Rose, foreground, a social worker sitting with the group, called it “something beautiful.”
Photos by: Steve Wilhelm

About 50 silent meditators gathered in Seattle’s Westlake Mall on Black Friday, to support the Black Lives Matter protests that followed soon after.

Organizer Tracy Stewart, wearing red shawl, said the meditation before the protest was an alternative to sitting in powerless fear.

Organizer Tracy Stewart, wearing red shawl, said the meditation before the protest was an alternative to sitting in powerless fear.

The meditators were associated with the Seattle chapter of Buddhist Peace Fellowship. They laid out sheets and yoga mats on the pavement and silently sat and stood meditating, despite the cacophony of holiday shoppers and loud Christmas music immediately nearby.

For more than 30 minutes the meditators stayed mostly immobile, creating a zone of peace. People passing by took cell phone photos, and seemed respectful.

This was the second time Buddhist Peace Fellowship has opened the Black Friday demonstrations with meditation, said organizer Tracy Stewart.

“We wanted to sit in solidarity for all POC (people of color) feeling threatened, and all LGBTQ feeling threatened, and all allies who want to do something,” she said. “It is our way of bringing attention that there’s a different way of spending Black Friday.”

Several thousand people gathered for the Black Lives Matter march.

Several thousand people gathered for the Black Lives Matter march.

She acknowledged that the recent presidential election has brought up fear for many minorities.

“Instead of sitting around feeling afraid, on your pillow,” she said. “You can get out and do something.”

Elaine Waller-Rose, a social worker sitting with the group, called it “something beautiful.”

“I’ve been to many protests and sits, there’s something powerful about sitting to express what our ideals are,” she said. “I can connect with Black Lives Matter, the Sioux Nation, and all of these people being oppressed.”

Kelly Dahlman-Oeth, pastor for Ronald United Methodist Church, said he joined help support love.

Kelly Dahlman-Oeth, pastor for Ronald United Methodist Church, said he joined to help support love.

The meditators were joined by several people, including Kelly Dahlman-Oeth, pastor for Ronald United Methodist Church, from a neighborhood north of Seattle.

He joined the standing meditators, his clerical collar distinguishing him from the more alternative clothes worn by most of the group.

“I saw you doing this, and I wanted to add my prayers and love to all of yours, to conquer the fear and hate that is building and growing,” he said. “Centering and breathing, sending out loving kindness that each of us need.”

As the meditation ended at about 1 p.m., more Black Lives Matter demonstrators were arriving.

The massive crowd walked through downtown Seattle and nearby areas, but stayed peaceful until dispersing at about 5 p.m.