Seattle: Motorist Rams Protesters on Highway, Killing One

By Nélida Tello

In the early hours of Saturday, Dawit Kelete, 27, barreled through a crowd of protesters in his vehicle heading down Interstate 5 in Seattle, killing one and critically injuring another.

Both protesters were taken to Harborview Medical Center where Summer Taylor, 24, was pronounced dead Saturday night. Diaz Love, 32, survived the hit-and-run and remains in recovery.

People honored both Love and Taylor at a Sunday vigil. Friends described Taylor as a dedicated anti-racist activist who took part in the protests since the murder of George Floyd while also working full time at a veterinarian clinic. Love took to Facebook on Sunday, “In a lot of pain. I cannot believe Summer was murdered. If they thought this murder would make us back down, they are very wrong. Very wrong.”

The protesters had concluded a demonstration outside the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct and were heading back to the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) when they took the I-5, which they have done repeatedly over the past month. Love had been live streaming the protest for nearly two hours when the crowd started warning each other, shouting “Car! Car!” as Kelete rammed his white Jaguar into the crowd. The impact of the hit sent Taylor and Love flying through the air.

Kelete was booked at King County Jail with bail set at $1.2 million. He has been charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving and will be arraigned on July 22. Kelete was involved in two other car crashes in 2013 and 2017.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) had blocked off both directions of the I-5 that traverse through downtown late Friday night. Footage shows Kelete speeding down I-5 in the wrong direction, dodging a barricade of cars before plowing down the protesters.

After the incident, State Patrol Captain Ron Mead announced that freeways would no longer be closed for marches and blamed protesters for the attack on Saturday stating, “We are not going to be allowing protesters to access the freeway unimpeded, and there are consequences for criminal conduct.”

Two similar car attacks against Black Lives Matter protesters occurred on Monday. In Bloomington, Indiana one demonstrator was injured, and in Long Island, New York two more demonstrators were also hurt. The Bloomington perpetrator is still at large, while New Yorker Anthony Cambareri, 36, has been arrested and charged with third degree assault.