WARNING: This article contains graphic content that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
- Dawit Kelete was identified as the driver of a white Jaguar that plowed into a group of protesters in Seattle early Saturday morning
- Summer Taylor and Diaz Love were both struck by Kelete’s vehicle after he swerved around two vehicles parked to protect protesters
- A protester jumped into his vehicle and forced Kelete to stop his vehicle after he had fled the scene
- Kelete is currently in jail without bail as part of an investigation into vehicular assault until at least his next court date on Monday
Following 19 consecutive days of shutting down the freeway in Seattle, Washington, 24-year-old Summer Taylor is dead and 27-year-old Dawit Kelete remains in jail after driving his white Jaguar into a nightly Black Femme March on Interstate 5.
At around 1:40 am Saturday morning, Kelete swerved around three cars acting as a barricade to protect protesters. Kelete drove the wrong way on a ramp before plowing through the unsuspecting protesters, striking Taylor and 32-year-old Diaz Love. Taylor passed away Saturday evening at Harborview Medical Center. Love, of Portland, Oregon, remains in serious, but stable condition.
As she had done in the days prior, Love was streaming the protest through her Facebook profile. The last stream on her page is just under two hours long and has the caption “#watch Black Femme March takes I-5 #chop #seattleprotest.” In the last minute of the video, protesters are seen standing and conversing when you hear people start to yell “car.” As Kelete sped closer the crowd began to panic and Love attempted to run to safety. The stream ended when Love was hit by Kelete’s Jaguar.
Another graphic video of the incident went viral on social media. In the short video, Kelete is seen speeding towards the protesters before swerving around the parked vehicles and hitting Love and Taylor hard enough to send them flying into the air. Kelete fled from the scene after striking Love and Taylor.
According to Washington State Patrol Trooper Chase Van Cleave, Kelete was alone. After fleeing from the scene, a protester hopped in his vehicle and chased Kelete for about a mile. The protester finally stopped Kelete by pulling his vehicle in front of the white Jaguar, Van Cleave said. Some have reported Kelete was trying to get a safe distance from protesters. According to Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead, Kelete was arrested. According to a probable-cause statement obtained by the Seattle Times, Kelete was “reserved and appeared sullen throughout his time in custody.” It went on to say, “At one point he asked if the injured pedestrians were okay.”
Kelete was booked into King County Jail under an investigation of felony vehicular assault. Due to the investigation, a judge found probable cause to hold Kelete in jail. While Troopers have not released anything regarding a possible motive, they do not believe impairment was a factor even though Kelete drove the wrong way on the Stewart Street off-ramp. At Kelete’s next court date on Monday, a judge will decide if he can be released on bail. It is not clear if Kelete currently has an attorney.
A video shared on social media shows the peaceful protest just moments before Kelete drove through the crowd. The video shows the group doing the “Cupid Shuffle” in the middle of Interstate 5. The tweet described the moments before the tragedy as a “festive atmosphere.”
The scene moments before a driver plowed into a crowd of peaceful protesters gathered on I-5 in Seattle early this morning: The Cupid Shuffle and a festive atmosphere. RIP Summer Taylor #SummerTaylor #DiazLove #SeattleProtest pic.twitter.com/NyXfRpbFd4— A-A-RON (@ASeattleStoner) July 5, 2020
On Saturday, WSP announced they would no longer be allowing protesters to enter I-5. “For the safety of all citizens including protesters and motorists, pedestrians walking on the freeway will be arrested,” the WSP said in a tweet.
On June 27, the WSP released a statement regarding concerns over freeway protests. WSP Chief John R. Batiste claimed that due to the large crowds and lengthy borders, the safest approach was to close the freeway and redirect traffic when needed. Batiste asked for residents to show “patience and grace as we all find the best ways to address these unprecedented challenges our country and state now face.”
With large crowds, multiple points of entry, a volatile environment, and limited safe response options, WSP has determined the best course of action is to temporarily close the highway and divert traffic when the need arises. Read more here: https://t.co/QIZnEVkMoN. pic.twitter.com/QxbPlV1zi9— WA State Patrol (@wastatepatrol) June 27, 2020
Taylor was a veterinarian at Urban Animal veterinary clinics. When not at work, Taylor had been at the protests following the murder of George Floyd since day one, according to Katelyn Hoberecht. A Go Fund Me for Taylor created before they passed describes them as “an incredibly strong and independent spirit.” The Go Fund Me was created by friends and has so far raised over $58,000. At the time of the Go Fund Me’s creation, Taylor was still in the ICU at Harborview.
Love also has a Go Fund Me that has raised just over $49,000. In the campaign’s description, it states that Love is stable. Love is described as “a huge animal lover” who “fights for the rights of people everywhere.” Both campaigns ask to use the pronouns “they” and “them” as Love and Taylor both identified as non-binary. Non-binary gender identity is one of several terms used to describe someone who does not exclusively identify as male or female. The term is often used as an umbrella term covering agender, bigender, genderfluid, genderqueer, and third gender.
There was reportedly a Go Fund Me campaign also started for Kelete, but it is no longer accessible. A Linkedin profile claims Kelete was an “Operations Manager” for DoorDash from September 2015 through January 2016. The profile also claims Kelete attended Washington State University from 2011 to 2015. His studies read, “Activities and Societies: Pi Kappa Alpha.” ABC7 reported that Kelete attended WSU from 2011 through 2017. Photos from Kelete’s Instagram appears to show he played soccer.
On Sunday, Mayor Jenny Durkan referred to Taylor’s death as “a life tragically lost far too soon.” Durkan went on to say “their legacy will be the real change they marched for.”
My thoughts are with Summer Taylor, and their family and loved ones. It is a life tragically lost far too soon, but their legacy will be the real change they marched for.— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) July 5, 2020
Kamala Harris said news of the death was “absolutely heartbreaking” in a tweet on Sunday. “Summer Taylor was only 24-years-old, peacefully protesting for Black Lives Matter when they were struck by a car. Thinking of their family during this difficult time and everyone in the movement today.”
Absolutely heartbreaking. Summer Taylor was only 24-years-old, peacefully protesting for Black Lives Matter when they were struck by a car. Thinking of their family during this difficult time and everyone in the movement today. pic.twitter.com/i7hqkjSSMH— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 5, 2020