Photos: Unity on Union protest blocks Uncle Ike’s 4/20 party

Protesters representing an array of organizations including Africatown, the Black Book Club, the NAACP and Mount Cavalry Christian Center marched from Garfield Community Center to 23rd Avenue and Union Street to protest Uncle Ike’s, a popular pot shop and destination for legal recreational marijuana.

For hours, protesters linked arms and chanted “Uncle Ike’s Has Got to Go” and “This Shop is Closed” to block customers from entering the Uncle Ike’s 4/20 festival. Some customers managed to get in by jumping over the fence, but the majority were deterred by the protest.

Uncle Ike’s, located where many young African Americans were arrested for selling pot over the past decades, has become a symbol of gentrification and a lightning rod for protest, with artist Draze producing a single about it called “Irony on 23rd” and artist Spekulation also addressing it in his song “Uncle Ike.”

Uncle Ike’s, with its huge neon signs and street party vibe, is just a few feet from Mount Calvary and across the street from the church’s teen center, which Pastor Reggie Witherspoon argued would not be allowed in other neighborhoods.

For many protesters, Uncle Ike’s is a manifestation of national and local racial inequities in drug policy and enforcement, with the now-legal recreational marijuana business making millions while African Americans and Latinos remain incarcerated for low-level drug offenses.

NAACP leader Sheley Secrest speaks to high school students in front of Garfield Community Center before the march and rally. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
NAACP leader Sheley Secrest speaks to high school students in front of Garfield Community Center before the march and rally. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
A protester near Twenty-third and Union. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
A protester near Twenty-third and Union. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Artist and event organizer Draze leads protesters outside of Uncle Ike's. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Artist and event organizer Draze leads protesters outside of Uncle Ike’s. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Protesters, including Derek Dizon and Elaine Agoot (second and third from the left) block Union Street side entrance into Uncle Ike's 4/20 party. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Protesters, including Derek Dizon and Elaine Agoot (second and third from the left) block Union Street side entrance into Uncle Ike’s 4/20 party. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Longtime community activist Omari Tahir-Garrett yells at Uncle Ike's owner Ian Eisenberg (far left). (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Longtime community activist Omari Tahir-Garrett yells at Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg (far left). (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Activist Michael Renaissance Moynihan, middle left, struggles to avoid being crushed by party fence after shop staff try to push it back towards Uncle Ike's. Owner Ian Eisenberg is third from the left. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
Activist Michael Renaissance Moynihan, middle left, pushes in Uncle Ike’s party fence, then struggles to avoid being crushed by the fence when shop staff try to push it back the other way. Owner Ian Eisenberg is third from the left. (Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
(Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)
(Photo by Naomi Ishisaka)

Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original publication to clarify a story caption. The original caption with the photo of Michael Moynihan read: “Activist Michael Renaissance Moynihan, middle left, struggles to avoid being crushed by party fence after shop staff try to push it back towards Uncle Ike’s. Owner Ian Eisenberg is third from the left.” The new story caption reads: “Activist Michael Renaissance Moynihan, middle left, pushes in Uncle Ike’s party fence, then struggles to avoid being crushed by the fence when shop staff try to push it back the other way. Owner Ian Eisenberg is third from the left.”

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16 Comments

  1. The protesters look like bullies and fools. They never make a fuss about the open sale of drugs and gun violence around children but now use the false pretense of caring about the safety of children to harass and extort from this man. I wonder how that Muslim immigrant wearing the headscarf would feel if protesters targeted her? People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

  2. I watched the video and Ian is right. Michael is the instigator of the violence. In a post above Ian claimed that he was subject to racial taunts and the author of this piece was in earshot. She needs to answer to that claim.

  3. Why did you delete the comments Naomi? Nation of Islam was there, why not mention of it? Ian said he had very racist insults spewed at him. Why didn’t you mention that?

      1. I saw the video and your caption is still incorrect. He is not avoiding being crushed. He could have easily gotten up and gotten away. Also Ian said that Garrett make racial threats towards him. Why was that omitted? The claims by the activists that there is a teen center next door are including despite the fact that has been proven to be untrue? Why is it so taboo in the leftist media to admit incidents are anti-Jewish racism? This paper has no problem publishing claims of anti-black racism, Islamaphobia, sexism, homophobia and transphobia even if there is no proof it happened? Why so adverse to publishing claims of anti-Jewish racism?

  4. I tried to leave this comment but it didn’t publish. Maybe because it was too long or had a link? I will try it in 2 parts:
    I saw a video of this on youtube (link below). The rapper was filming in the middle of the street. At one point a white man walks through while it is being filmed and a black woman starts yelling at him and physically assaults him. In another video a rep for the NAACP (Sheley Seacrest) said the law isn’t being applied equally. She was referring to the accusation by protesters that there is a youth center where children congregate right next door. This has been exposed in court as being a lie. Why does the city give an enormous amount of funds to the NAACP and Africatown when they are so openly racist and dishonest?
    Ms Seacrest is correct though, just not in the way she claims. The protesters have broken the law many times but aren’t being held accountable for their crimes: The rapper didn’t have permits to film but were allowed to block off the street. Other people who film have to pay for this privilege and obtain permits. But they got it for free. A protester in the video assaults the guy, the police were there, it is caught on tape. Why wasn’t she charged with assault?

  5. (2/2) There were racist comments spewed by the protester to Uncle Ike’s owner. I remember a case a few years ago when a white man was sentenced to 6 months in jail for calling a black parking attendant the “n” word. This incident was equally disturbing but the man who said it, Omari Garrett, is not only not arrested, but pandered to by the mayor and his organization gets city funds. He also has a history of anti-Asian racism and violence towards city officials. The protesters have openly made extortionist demands under vague threats. They have stated he is not allowed in that neighborhood because of his race. None of this is legal . Shelly is right, this isn’t equal application of the law.
    here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlR42iV5Fog
    (The incident takes place within the first 3 minutes of the video)

    1. Hi Juliana,
      Your comments were automatically flagged because they contained links. We get a lot of spam without that filter activated.

  6. I see the 2nd part of my comment was never published. For a paper that claims to be revolutionary you sure are reactionary and cowardly. The protesters were no different that those who have been harassing Muslims and those who harassed blacks back in the day. It is chilling to see people who claim to be oppressed tell someone who has lived in the neighborhood all his life he is not welcome there because of the color of his skin. And the people who are doing this feel it is their neighborhood despite having never lived there, many not even from Seattle, some not even from this country, simply because in the 1970’s the neighborhood was 70% of their race. Truly fascist and racial supremacy.

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