In Seattle, the revolution will be live-streamed
Across the nation, and in Seattle in particular, live streaming video is bringing the protests over racial injustice to a wider audience.
Many are relying on an artist from South Seattle who goes by the handle, Future Crystals.
Chai Adera, a.k.a. @Future_Crystals on Instagram, has been at protests since May 29 with phone in hand, broadcasting a real time video stream of what’s happening. He captures events through late evening, from speakers at rallies to confrontations with the police.
“I done seen everything from straight-up anarchy to (an) organized system, like people really trying to change things,” Adera said. “Each day I see it become more and more organized.”
At a critical meeting last week, Nikkita Oliver brought his phone – and the live stream – into City Hall and stationed the camera at the table where Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best, and community leaders sat.
At any time, hundreds to thousands of people are tuning in. Viewers post their comments, questions and critiques, which continuously scroll up through the video stream.
The @Future_Crystals stream is one of many that have captured key events in recent days, including when a car drove into Seattle’s Capitol Hill and the driver shot a man.
Last weekend’s confrontations between police and protesters could be viewed from multiple angles at once. Some live streams go even further and compile multiple angles into the same feed on Twitch, a platform more often used for video games.
Adera spoke to KUOW on the sidelines of a recent rally in the Central District—his Instagram feed streaming the interview in real time.
The reactions from his viewers were mixed about whether he should even do the interview.
“Part of the injustice, and part of this racist, systematic oppression that we feel every single day is biased media,” Adera said.
Live streaming is Adera’s way to help people participate in this moment, he said.
“Maybe they live with their grandmother; they don't want to give them Covid-19. Maybe they're injured, they have a bad knee, or they got a job, they can't be here,” Adera said. “They can still tap in, they can still tell others how to help, figure out where to donate, figure out where to drop supplies off. Everyone is needed.”
Before the pandemic, Adera, 24, exhibited digital media artwork at the King Street Station, among other places, and was setting up an online store.
Adera identifies as mixed race – Native (Choctaw), Black, French, Scottish, Irish, Jewish, Sicilian, and Cuban. Oppression of people of color, including himself, motivated him to come out to the protests, he said.
“I've known three people in my life that have been killed by police,” Adera said. “That's not OK to even know a single person that has been unjustly killed by the police.”
Adera says he wants the city to defund the police department and give the money to schools, community centers, and community organizations.
“We want change," he said. "We're all tired. Each and every day we are more tired, we’re more ready to change everything. We want answers.”
Viewers are connecting with his message and sending in donations over Venmo, PayPal and GoFundMe. Adera said he has raised $60,000. The money has gone toward medic supplies, tables, tents, art supplies, hand washing stations, garbage cans, and protective gear for protesters, as well as bailing people out of jail.
Also, he just got a new phone and data plan.
“I'm ready to be out here for the next few months until I see some better change for real,” he said.