We are two months away from the annual Seattle Dyke March and Rally on June 24th, 2023! We are celebrating our 29th year of the March, but as with most things, time brings change. We will still have the Rally from 5-7PM and the March will begin between 7-8PM when the Rally ends. We are moving to Volunteer Park and having an unpermitted march around the North Capitol Hill neighborhood.
The Seattle Dyke Rally will be held at Volunteer Park on June 24th, 2023 at 5PM. As in previous years, this will be a celebration of dyke-identity from across the gender spectrum. Our stage is a place to highlight and honor the experiences, pleasures, activism and identities of queer women and dyke-identified people — that much is unchanged. If you are interested in speaking or performing at this year’s Dyke March, please reach out to email@example.com, but please keep in mind that we ask that all persons on stage be dyke-identified. The Seattle Dyke Rally is an annual event to highlight the voices of queer women and dyke-identified people across the gender spectrum, so please be respectful of this effort and uplift these voices during our event.
Second, since the Rally will be hosted at Volunteer Park, that is also where the March will begin from. Since we are marching unpermitted and without police involvement, we have moved to this new location to protect the safety of our marchers and limit disruption to Seattle public transportation. There are risks associated with participating in an unpermitted march, and we completely understand if anyone is uncomfortable participating. If you plan to participate, please know your rights and come prepared.
Want to attend the Rally and not the March? That’s fine! However you choose to show up during Pride is valued and appreciated. In addition to the Rally, we will also be hosting a number of other events throughout Pride and during the rest of the year, so this is not your only opportunity to find community!
Why are we moving?
There are logistical reasons, like trying to find a venue that will make sound easier through access to electricity, but the main reason we are moving is to have a March and Rally on Capitol Hill during Pride weekend that better aligns with our values. Historically, the Seattle Dyke March has been a permitted event at Seattle Pride. We have spent several years attempting to find a way to safely do a march that does not require a police escort. We have been unable to get traction on changing the law or the interpretation of the law which requires a police management of controlled intersections. We have also been unable to secure the volunteer force sufficient enough to block streets to feel like we could safely do a march through a busier neighborhood. This move allows us to keep the March, while making sure that we keep people safe.
In addition, without being permitted, we won’t be able to coordinate with King County Metro about bus routes. The Dyke March is mindful about how important access to reliable public transportation is and our historic route needs coordination with King County Metro.
Why is it important to us to have a march without a police escort?
We are sure that the vast majority of people familiar with the values of Dyke Marches understand why the institution of policing is problematic. The Seattle Police Department has a long, troubled history. Throughout the 1900s, the Seattle Police Department was considered corrupt due to the collusion with criminalized gambling and sex work.
In 2010, Seattle Police killed an innocent Native American woodcarver, John T. Williams. The Department of Justice investigated, and the Seattle Police Department has been under a consent decree since 2011 to attempt to correct its racist/biased policing that is so pervasive it was found to violate our constitutional rights.
In that time, we have witnessed many other incidents of violence and death at the hands of police.
We also witness the ways SPD disrespect the civilians it is supposed to serve and protect. In the middle of the CHOP/CHAZ protests, the SPD engaged in radio chatter about Proud Boys coming to the Capitol Hill to try and scare people into leaving.
Last year, with the rising levels of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, when trying to discuss how SPD would respond to protestors, SPD made it very clear that they would do nothing to prevent protesters from attempting to infiltrate our permitted event — something that we have seen in the past. The way the police will stand by when someone is yelling and screaming obscenities, hateful rhetoric, and clearly attempting to start conflict. The only time they would get involved is if the protester assaulted someone, and the person who was assaulted was willing to file a complaint. The police made it clear that if anyone in the March attempted to keep the protester out, they could be subject to arrest if they touched the protester and the protester complained.
The reality is that having SPD at our event is inconsistent with our values. We should have never done a permitted route if it meant SPD had to escort us. We should have stopped having the escort after the killing of John T. Williams. We should have stopped after the killing of Charleena Lyles. We should not have done our first post-pandemic march with a permit. But we cannot keep marching with a permit even though we failed to do better in the past.
How will the route change impact other parts of the March?
Dykes on Bikes will be joining us for the 2023 march, but in a different capacity than previous years. Due to the new route, we are not confident that the more narrow streets will be able to accommodate the Dykes on Bikes and their need to do circles to prevent damage to vehicles from idling at low speeds. Therefore, Dykes on Bikes will begin the march, but the riders will move to block intersections as the march continues.
We are checking to determine whether we will be able to have the accessible bus on our route. If not, we will be exploring other options so people who want to be a part of the March but have barriers to walking the entire route can still participate.
It is a challenge, giving up our historic route and knowing that we may lose some of the incredible feeling of community that is collectively marching through the main streets of our gayborhood. It is hard navigating what will be safe for our community, knowing many people may not even know what the difference between a permitted and unpermitted march are. We trust our community of Dykes will understand and support this decision. We look forward to marching in community in ways that feel safe. Figuring out what our future Marches will look like is going to be a work in progress. We invite your feedback — you can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We can’t wait to celebrate and march with you!