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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

December 5, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Westlake Park protest canceled Friday night to help caroling competition

It appears Westlake Park will be a protest-free area on Friday night, although one had been scheduled.

Even the “Shut XMAS Down” protesters weren’t going to go up against an already-planned caroling competition to benefit the Pike Market Senior Center & Food Bank.

Hungry seniors are potent sympathy symbols.

The decision was made at around noon Friday because of “community protests, community output,” said Mohawk Kuzma, who has become the unofficial spokesman for the demonstrators, mostly because he’s sometimes willing to talk to the media.

On his Facebook page, Justice4MikeBrown, Kuzma further said the last-minute cancellation was “because the mainstream media has been fueling the racist and ignorant people in this nation.”

He said protests would start again on Sunday “and disrupt business as usual.”

Jeannie Falls, head of the senior center, said about the protest cancellation, “We are delighted about that.”

Still, news that Kuzma was calling off the protest (and it wasn’t clear if his message would reach the disparate groups that take part in them) came too late for the sixth-graders in the Chief Kanim Middle School Choir out of Fall City, who earlier in the day had decided not to take part in the event because of the planned protest.

“On Fridays we have early release, and they all just went home,” said choir teacher Laura Thompson. “Once the wheels are in motion, it’s pretty hard to reverse the decision. I feel really sad this is happening. They were so excited. It all went down the drain.”

Thompson said the decision was made by the school district.

“We would have had 60 11-year-olds, with potentially crazy things happening,” if protests had taken place, said Thompson.

There were some three dozen groups scheduled to sing at the annual Figgy Pudding competition, now in its 28th year.

Two middle schools’ choirs were the youngest to compete, and both had called to say they weren’t coming, said the senior center. The second school said Friday afternoon it was “discussing the situation” now that the protest had been canceled.

Last year, the competition raised $107,000 for the senior center, as some 10,000 people strolled by the various teams and voted with their money.

Falls said one plus of the drama about whether the carolers would face off with protesters was that for some, this was the first they had heard of the Figgy Pudding event.

“We’re delighted about the publicity,” she said. “We can take all the attention we can get for this event.”

Meanwhile, Kuzma was dealing with the problems of being an unofficial spokesman.

He tweeted, “NO INTERVIEWS. 2 busy telling people protest rescheduled Sunday.”

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Figgy Pudding, protest, Westlake Park

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