A Message from Dean Thomason
A Turbulent Night in Seattle
Dear friends,
As I write this late Saturday night, at the deanery on Capitol Hill, my heart is heavy with the weight of our city’s strained anger which has turned violent once again. Earlier this evening, events unfolded outside our kitchen window which I believe represent a microcosm of what is unfolding elsewhere in the city.

The police had diverted a Black Lives Matter protest north on Broadway, to 10th Avenue, then onto Aloha heading east uphill. This redirection has become common in the last two months. Several hundred nonviolent marchers chanted familiar slogans calling for justice. A few who brought up the rear saw fit to pull trash bins into the street and dump the refuse there, including two large bins from the apartments behind our house. It blocked traffic, which was presumably the intent. This act prompted an angry white man to shout hateful things at the protesters. A few reacted with anger, including one who charged the white man. Another protester stepped between them, and called for restraint, and then helped right the bins and return the trash to the receptacles, even while others returned the hateful speech. Someone threw a bottle toward the last protesters, shattering it in the street just outside our window. It also shattered whatever hope for restraint remained in the moment as a protester pulled a canister of pepper spray from his backpack and chased the white man down to the intersection with 10th Avenue, where he tackled him, sprayed him in the face, and left the screaming man lying in the middle of the busy intersection. Most of the protesters moved along up the hill to rejoin their group heading toward Cal Anderson Park.

But that’s not the end of the story. Several neighbors poured quickly into the street to tend to the man and help him to the curb; a couple of protesters remained with him also. Medics with the Fire Department arrived quickly, too. In that moment, a fellow human was injured and lying in the street. The irony was not lost on me.

Without a word, our neighbors to the south and east of us brought brooms and joined us in the silent work of cleaning the street of the glass. No words were needed to give voice to our common lament for what had just played out in front of us.

An hour later the police had pressed the group back down the hill, retracing its path by our home. I spoke with marchers whose zeal for change is blurred tonight with a searing anger.
I support the Black Lives Matter movement, and I am hopeful for many of the reforms it advocates. But the violence in this moment seemed so misplaced, misguided, unnecessary and counter-productive.

The image of a man shouting obscenities at protesters, and a protester tackling him and spraying him in the face will not soon leave me. But neither will the protester who tried to diffuse the situation, and others who tended to the hurt man lying in the middle of the street. There is, in all of this, a parable I think. A parable for our time, for our city. Let those who have ears listen!

The gospel of Jesus Christ has much to speak to us in this moment. Each of us has vocations, and I hope you will discern yours and engage them earnestly. Let me bless you in them. If your zeal is blurred with searing anger, perhaps you are called to protest. If that is so, protest with a virtuous zeal, and turn your focus toward that change you hope for, rather than the enemy against which you are fighting. Don’t take their bait of hatred and return it with hatred. Pepper spray in everyone’s eyes just leaves everyone blind, right?

If you are angered by our President, or by the intrusion of federal agents, or by the crisis in our democracy, or by city officials, or by police tactics, or by vandalizing protesters, or… or… or… ask yourself how that anger informs your vocation in this moment, your vocation in the name of Christ. Your anger may very well serve a purpose, but do the work of self-reflection to ensure it is rightly used.

In it all, we are called to pray, to pray fervently to God in such a time as this—to pray for our broken hurting world, for our city, for all who demonstrate peacefully, for all who stand in harm’s way, for those whose anger has blinded them to our common humanity, for you and me, and for this community of Saint Mark’s Cathedral. Pray that this community might stand courageously as a witness of Christ in this world, in all the ways our communal vocation calls us into action. And let us worship together, wherever we are, that we might encourage one another on the journey. I am,
Your Brother in Christ,
The Very Reverend Steven L. Thomason
Dean and Rector