The DuPont mayor has canceled the city’s Seattle Seahawks rally on Saturday (Sept. 10) because of a possible team demonstration planned before Sunday’s season opener.
Mayor Mike Courts posted an explanation Friday morning, saying the city doesn’t support protest actions being contemplated by at least one Seahawks player trying to raise awareness of racial inequality in the United States.
“I believe the controversy surrounding the potential protest at the Seahawk game makes it inappropriate to commit City resources to an activity that may be misunderstood or prove offensive to a large number of our residents,” wrote Courts, who has been on the City Council since 2012.
Later Friday, Courts said the rally might be back on, depending on what the Seahawks plan to do Sunday, the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Never miss a local story.
The mayor told The Seattle Times he was waiting for “some sort of confirmation” from the team that the players intend is to “show respect and honor” for the American flag.
It was unconfirmed Friday what a Seahawks protest might be, but rumors were the players will be locked arm in arm, black and white players lined up in alternating order.
“I will tell you this,” Seattle’s No. 1 wide receiver, Doug Baldwin Jr., told The News Tribune after Seahawks’ practice Friday, “you will like what we do on Sunday.”
At press time Friday night, Courts had not announced any change of plans.
Earlier, those attending Saturday’s rally, set for noon to 2 p.m. at Powderworks Park, had been urged to wear Seahawks gear in support of the 2014 Super Bowl champions.
Last week, Seahawks player Jeremy Lane stayed seated during the pregame national anthem during the team’s preseason finale at Oakland. On Monday, he said he would sit during the anthem Sunday as well.
The point of any protest,” Baldwin said this week, “is to get people to think.”
“It’s very ironic to me,” he said, “that 15 years ago, Sept. 11, 2001, one of the most devastating times in U.S. history, after that day we were probably the most unified that we’ve ever been. And today, we struggle to see the unity.”
Courts said he understands the country is struggling to balance social justice with criminal justice and the solution can’t involve violence.
“Freedom of speech is a tenet of our community, and not honoring our flag is our right,” wrote the mayor, a retired U.S. Army colonel with more than 30 years military experience as an officer. “But free speech is not without cost: words and actions mean things and are often times interpreted in a way not intended.
“While I respect the right of NFL players to express themselves, they must also respect the fact that their actions are hurtful to the community.
“As I said before, we need to find answers without violence or vitriol. So, until we as a community can find ways to talk and work together, the City of DuPont will not take sides by offering official support of the Seahawks, NFL, or individual players.”
The mayor said he consulted with city staff members Thursday night before deciding to cancel the rally.
Four residents quickly commented on the city’s post. Two supported Courts’ decision and two were opposed, fearing it would cast the city in a bad light.
One resident wrote, “This should be each person’s choice and the mayor had no right to make that choice for the rest of us.”
Another commenter disagreed, writing “If the Seahawks players execute their protest as planned, then they add to problems of dividing the community. DuPont is leading the way to mitigate a balance … well done!”
Although Saturday’s rally is at this point still off, the city will the grand opening of its off-leash area at Powderworks Park is definitely on. The event will includes vendors, food and raffles.
The rally initially was advertised in combination with the grand opening.
Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653