Protestor Summer Taylor Dies After Car Drives Into a Seattle March

Summer Taylor, 24, died at the Harborview Medical Center on Saturday night after a car drove into a group of Seattle protestors on Interstate 5. Taylor was reportedly taking part in the Black Femme March early Saturday morning when a car plowed into demonstrators standing on a closed section of the interstate. Another protestor, Diaz Love, 32, was also injured and was in an intensive care unit as of Sunday morning, according to the Seattle Times. Here, everything you need to know.

What happened on July 4th?

According to the Seattle Times, protestors from the Black Femme March had stopped on the interstate while walking back to Capitol Hill after a march to the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct. One protestor described the scene as a “festive environment,” and people were dancing to the Cupid Shuffle shortly before the car drove the wrong way on an off-ramp, entered a shut down section of the interstate, and struck protestors.

The Seattle Times reports that witnesses captured video as the car “swerved around two vehicles positioned as a barrier to protect protesters.” The video then showed the car driving toward protesters, sending two “flying into the air.” The driver, who has been identified as 27-year-old Dawit Kelete, kept going for about two miles before being stopped by police. The New York Times reports Kelete was booked into King County Jail on a charge of vehicular assault and that a sobriety test showed he was not under the influence. Authorities described Kelete as “reserved” and “sullen” and said he asked about the injured protestors.

Before the Black Femme March on July 4th, Love wrote in a Facebook post, “If you’ve been following the Revolution and protests you know the death threats from various hate groups is real, real this weekend. I’ll be shocked if some major tragedy doesn’t take place in one of our protests in the States this weekend. To say Im scared af to be going out and protesting this weekend is an understatement. But still, my brave Black Femmes will be on their march today. Still, we need to protect Black woman.” Love was livestreaming from the march.

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted about the incident on Saturday, writing, “No one should risk their life for demanding better from our city, state and country. Washington State Patrol is leading the investigation and they have assured us they are quickly and thoroughly investigating the incident. I have offered any city resources needed.”

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Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead said that protesters had forced a closure on this interstate every day for almost three weeks. The Washington State Patrol has since announced they will no longer allow protestors onto the interstate:

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CNN reports that when Mead was asked if the incident was a targeted attacked, he said, “We don’t know that, that does remain a focus of our investigation.”

NPR reports that since Black Lives Matter protests began in late May, following the killing of George Floyd, there have been at least 50 reported “vehicle-ramming incidents” and many are suspected to be extremists targeting protestors.

How to help Summer Taylor and Diaz Love:

GoFundMe pages have since been set up for both Taylor and Love. On Taylor’s GoFundMe, organizer Becky Gilliam described them as “an incredibly strong and independent spirit.” Gilliam wrote, “They are a bright and caring person who’s presence elicits joy and laughter in others. Summer works at a veterinary clinic and takes pride in their community & supporting others.”

Taylor worked at the Urban Animal veterinary clinics and their co-worker Katelyn Hoberecht told the Seattle Times, “Summer has been there since Day One standing up for Black lives. Staying out all day and night, while still working full time taking care of animals. Summer talked me about the protests, and how incredible it was to be a part of something so huge. A part of history.”

Keenan Camacho, Taylor’s friend and former co-worker, also told the New York Times, “They were always the first one to call people out for being sexist, racist—standing up for queer and trans people, basically anyone who needed to be stood up for, they were the ones there that were so vocal.”

Organizer Abigail Annable described Love on their GoFundMe as “a huge animal lover” who “fights for the rights of people everywhere.”

In a recent Facebook post, Love wrote that they are alive and stable but in a lot of pain. They wrote, “I cannot believe Summer was murdered. If they thought this murder would make us back down, they are very wrong. Very wrong. My FB is filled with death threats, that and only being able to use one hand has me going slow. I deeply appreciate and feel all the love y’all are sending me.”

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Madison is a staff writer at ELLE.com, covering news, politics, and culture.

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