SEATTLE – Protesters behind the Black Lives Matter movement say they'll be back at this year's Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Westlake Park.
The protesters announced their plans at a press conference in City Hall, backed by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, local NAACP leaders and lawyer Neil Fox.
"I think protesters are there with a legitimate cause," said Sawant. "They're protesting police brutality all over the nation, including in Seattle."
Fox, the lawyer, says he is arranging for a team of so-called legal observers to monitor police-protester interactions.
"My memory from last year is that police were the first people to be violent," said Fox.
You'd probably hear vastly different memories if you asked the families and children who had to leave four hours early after protesters interrupted the 2014 Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
"The protesters I know are extremely peaceful," said Sawant. "They know what they're doing. They're there to protest injustice. The don't wish injustice on anybody."
When asked what Sawant's message is to the families and children who were scared away by protesting last year, Sawant walked away while aides said she had to attend another meeting.
In an email, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department wrote: "The Seattle Police Department supports the rights of demonstrators, the community and families enjoying holiday events. We will be providing public safety services to ensure that all can exercise their rights to assembly and free speech."