More than 150 students and community members gathered Wednesday at Seattle Central College to pray and rally for Hamza Warsame, a 16-year-old Seattle Central student who died over the weekend after falling from a sixth-floor rooftop deck.
It was the first of two rallies planned in support of the family of the teenager. Another rally is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, also at Seattle Central College.
Seattle Police say the circumstances of Warsame’s death are under investigation.
The group expressed frustration about the lack of communication and sensitivity from the Seattle Police Department and Seattle Central College.
Family members and friends have said that they believe that Warsame, a full-time Running Start student at Seattle Central, was at the Capitol Hill apartment building to meet people for a study group. They also expressed concern the death was not treated seriously initially because Warsame was black.
“We want justice and we won’t rest until we get that justice,” Seattle Central College student Ardo Hersi told the crowd of protestors. “We brought you here today — to the Seattle Police Department, to the president’s office here — because oftentimes we all go through it. Being black and being in college, we face discrimination on a daily basis.”
“The message that we got is that we don’t matter. That they don’t care about us,” Ardo said.
The group — carrying variations of #JusticeforHamza and #BlackLivesMatter signs — marched through the college’s halls and to the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building on 12th Avenue to confront the Seattle Police Department. The group temporarily stopped traffic on Pine Street and Broadway.
Ikram Warsame, one of Hamza’s older sisters, said her family now has had conferences with the Seattle Police Department, and she credited the public outcry with getting the police to meet with her family.
“I want to bring attention to the fact that the only reason we’re having this conference now is because of the attention on social media,” Warsame said.
“I’m so happy about the people who’ve brought attention to this,” said about the protests and events surrounding her brother’s death. “If it wasn’t for them, my brother’s investigation wouldn’t have been as involved as it is right now.”
“Hopefully, the more this continues, the more the police department will be pushed,” Warsame said.
Seattle Police ask anyone with additional information to contact investigators at (206) 233-5000.