Small protest staged on Seattle streets against King County’s new juvenile jail

SEATTLE -- A small group of demonstrators blocked some intersections along 4th Avenue in downtown Seattle for hours Friday to protest what they say is a waste of money to build a new King County juvenile detention center.

A leader of the protest said King County is not listening to their concerns, so they decided to take action.

Last November, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced plans to take a new approach to juvenile detention, which includes a new Children and Family Justice Center expected to open in 2020.

But those protesting Friday said the new jail is just another way for the county to incarcerate children of color. They also say they're ready to protest as long as it takes until their voices are heard.

According to Constantine, the number of kids in youth detention has dropped more than 70 percent over the past 20 years.

But according to organizers of Friday's protest, more than 50 percent of kids who are locked up are black.

Constantine says the new Justice Center isn't meant to send more kids to jail, but instead to help make sure that eventually no kids end up behind bars.

County voters approved a levy to cover the more than $200 million bill for the new juvenile justice complex. The property tax increase has been challenged in court, but for now, the added tax is still legal.