Protests in Seattle following Breonna Taylor decision, 13 arrested
Following the announcement in Louisville, Ky. about the Breonna Taylor case Wednesday, peaceful demonstrations emerged in Seattle, followed by separate clashes with police officers, property destruction, and 13 arrests.
The Seattle Police Department is reporting that a bicycle officer has been placed on leave after video shows an officer rolling over the head of a protester laying on the ground. The Office of Police Accountability is investigating the incident, and the King County Sheriff's Office is also investigating for potential criminal charges.
Immediately after being made aware of this incident, SPD activated the Force Investigation Team (FIT) to document and investigate the use of force – as required by policy — and alerted the Office of Police Accountability (OPA), which also responded to the scene. OPA has opened an investigation into the incident. The officer has been placed on administrative leave. Following the request from the OPA, the SPD has referred the incident to the King County Sheriff’s Office for a potential criminal investigation.
A grand jury in Kentucky indicted a single former police officer for shooting into neighboring apartments, but did not move forward with charges against any officers for their role in Breonna Taylor’s death.
Protests for racial justice have been ongoing in Seattle for more than 100 days. The decision on the Breonna Taylor case prompted two demonstrations in Seattle Wednesday night.
A small crowd gathered at Seattle's Westlake Center for a solidarity march with Louisville. Another protest took place at Cal Anderson park, the area that once hosted the CHOP/CHAZ.
“We need to stand up for everybody else, and that’s right, because we need to. Let’s stand up for ourselves too though. Let’s stand up for here too," said TK, a demonstrator at the march near Westlake Park. "I love going to fight for everybody else. I would love going to fight and get justice for everywhere else, but I want justice here too … Seattle first. And if we can turn out like this today, we can turn out like this every day. No excuse. No excuse.”
Protesters marched out of Westlake Park and through downtown Seattle, guarded by a car brigade. By 8:30 p.m., there was no sight of law enforcement around the Westlake march.
"This cannot keep happening," on marcher said. "Breonna Taylor was not a criminal. She saved lives on the daily. Literally. She was a hero, she is still a hero."
By around 10:30 p.m., the group of around 200 demonstrators, who marched from Westlake Center to the federal courthouse, created a vigil for Breonna Taylor. Organizers handed out yellow flowers and candles. For eight minutes, the crowd stood silent. One woman softly sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
"People need to understand what abolish means," said Stefon Lyons, an organizer from Tacoma commenting on the oft heard "Abolish the Police" slogan. "Which means to tear down our systems that have proven they don't work to create new ones, that at least have the chance to work. We know this does not work, what we’re doing right now."
Capitol Hill arrests
Police did appear at the march starting at Cal Anderson Park after some protesters smashed parking meters and vandalized two Starbucks stores in First Hill. Police appeared on bicycles and in patrol cars. One car brigade driver was arrested and a dispersal order was given.
Small fires were set in the middle of the street, between marchers and police throughout Capitol Hill. Construction cones, dumpsters, and other debris were overturned and scattered in marchers' wake.
Police used pepper spray on the crowd after they say people started throwing bottles at them and some sort of explosive at the East Precinct -- where the security cameras were cut.
SPD also said Thursday morning that the Office of Police Accountability is investigating an incident - caught on video - that showed a bike officer rolling over the neck and head of a demonstrator laying on the ground.
Those arrested are facing charges for property destruction, resisting arrest and failure to disperse as well as assault on an officer. A total of 13 people were arrested at the Capitol Hill protest by the end of the night.
KUOW's Dyer Oxley contributed to this story.