'Finally.' Seattle celebrates news of Biden-Harris victory
After more than three days of holding their breaths, Biden-Harris supporters in Seattle took to the streets over the weekend.
They cheered at the news that Joe Biden is projected to be the president-elect and Kamala Harris the vice-president elect. Meanwhile President Trump and his supporters continue to dispute the election results.
In Seattle and other parts of the country, the honking was immediate and it went all day. People waved flags, formed car caravans, and lit fireworks. On Capitol Hill they held outdoor dance parties and handed out cans of Rainier Beer.
For some in Washington, however, the celebration was tempered with caution. Trump supporters held demonstrations at the state capitol in Olympia. Some Republicans called celebrations premature.
Reverend Leslie Braxton expressed other words in the wake of the results -- "relief" and "finally." He spoke of relief after the election results as he preached to his congregation at Kent's New Beginnings Christian Fellowship on Sunday morning.
“At least 51% of the nation is saying, ‘finally!’ Finally four years that seemed like an eternity is over,” he said. “Four years of disrespect, denigration, division.”
Braxton also celebrated the historic election of Kamala Harris as the first woman, the first Black person and the first Indian American to be vice president. “The strongest thing America ever made out of a need of survival was a Black woman,” he said. “You can almost hear the shouts and the echoes from the Sojourner Truths and the Harriet Tubmans.”
In Tukwila outside a senior housing complex, Abdi Hussein was working, not partying. He was helping distribute Safeway gift cards to people suffering in the current economy. But he lit up when asked about the presidential race.
“I was very happy,” he said. “It was personal for me.”
Hussein came to the U.S. in 2016, but knows many other Somali refugees who were cleared to fly – only to be blocked from coming because of the Trump Administration’s travel ban affecting several Muslim-majority countries. Hussein said Biden’s commitment to end the travel ban has been greeted with joy there.
“I was talking to some of them and they are very happy, they’re like, ‘Finally we’ll be in the U.S.!’”
Hussein said he couldn’t vote in this election. He expects to become a citizen next year, but he did his best to encourage others.
Meanwhile labor groups and other progressives gathered in Westlake Park Saturday under the banner, “Our Work Continues.” Susan Zeman is a nurse who says healthcare workers need the full support of the U.S. government to confront the Covid pandemic. She hopes protesters will keep calling for universal suffrage and justice, and not become complacent under Biden.
“He will do what he needs to do. But we have to make him do that,” she said. “This is not the end. Today is the beginning of our fight to create the America that we have dreamed of for 250 years.”
On Sunday, a group of volunteers waved U.S. flags and Biden-Harris banners on a Seattle overpass over I-5. Kathleen Warren says she started the anti-Trump group Alphabet Resistance on Inauguration Day 2017. They’ve been waving signs on overpasses since then.
Warren said their messages are “a mix of very anti-Trump, but also what we want: the good things, the justice, peace, equality, we’ve done a lot of Black Lives Matter.”
She said when President Trump is gone, they’ll leave the overpasses and move onto other forms of activism. But she said after at least 100 days out in the wind and rain, they seem to be winding down.
“I hope to not stand on a whole lot more overpasses in pouring down rain, that’s for sure,” she said. “This is an anti-Trump group and I say when he’s gone, we’re done. But that said, there’s not a person out here who isn’t active in other progressive organizations.”
Also she said the debates under a Democratic president might be more nuanced for her, and not lend themselves as easily to banner headlines. In the meantime, they’re just savoring this moment. A band had set up to the side of the overpass. They played, “I Can See Clearly Now,” and then, “Hit the Road, Jack.”