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Seattle Protests for Civil Rights
caption: Da'miracle Muse, center, leads a chant, -- 'we do this for our children. We do this for our children's children,' while marching in protest of the murder of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Seattle. 
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Da'miracle Muse, center, leads a chant, -- 'we do this for our children. We do this for our children's children,' while marching in protest of the murder of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

GEORGE FLOYD UNREST IN WESTERN WASHINGTON: Peaceful protests, violent rioting, and the city's response (May 30-31)

This is an archived post. Read the latest here.

Demonstrators moved through downtown Seattle on Saturday evening to protest the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.

Over the afternoon and into the evening, the demonstration gave way to incidents of violence and destruction.

What to know:

  • As peaceful demonstrators protested police violence against Black people in America in downtown Seattle on Saturday, violent groups turned to looting and destruction nearby.
  • Two AR-15 rifles were stolen from police cars (both have been recovered); several cop cars were set on fire; several community members and police officers have been injured; no serious injuries have been reported.
  • Mayor Jenny Durkan implemented a citywide curfew of 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and May 31. Residents of downtown Seattle have been instructed to shelter in place.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee has activated a total of 400 unarmed members of the state National Guard. Those guard members will be assisting with infrastructure protection, cleanup, and traffic for the next seven days.
  • Seattle city officials report that Molotov cocktails were thrown into buildings and cars. The agitators also shot fireworks into the crowd of demonstrators and at police. Firefighters were prevented from getting to the fires and were eventually escorted to the blazes by police.

Sunday, May 31

Update 6:54 p.m. Gov. Jay Inslee has deployed 200 unarmed members of the National Guard to aid in the response to unrest in downtown Bellevue. The request was made by King County officials.

Update 6:29 p.m. Protesters move through Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, demanding law enforcement accountability in the wake of George Floyd's killing by a Minneapolis Police officer. Some are calling for Seattle Police to peacefully join demonstrators in the rally.

Update 5:32 p.m. The City of Bellevue has declared a civil emergency in response to looting and property destruction in the downtown area. A curfew has been enacted from 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.

Update 4:45 p.m. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said there are no known significant injuries or deaths as a result of Saturday's events. Officials emphasized during a press conference that they support demonstrators' right to peacefully protest, and that the violence on Saturday was committed by a separate group of agitators.

"I want to express my gratitude to all the demonstrators who came peacefully to demand we do better — that's accountability," Durkan said. "It's what I as the mayor need and deserve. It's what the governor also needs, and what our community and country need. But the violence that broke out was wrong.”

Durkan also said all complaints regarding improper use of force by the Seattle Police Department would be reviewed and appropriate disciplinary measures would be taken.

Update 4:27 p.m. Officials have ordered a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for Seattle, for Sunday heading into Monday.

Update 3:48 p.m. A regional spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirms the agency is deploying officers around the country, “at the request of our federal, state and local partners confronting the lawless actions of rioters." It is unclear if and how many CBP agents are sent to the Northwest.

Update 11:39 a.m. Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee has deployed an additional 200 National Guard members at the request of Seattle city officials, to aid in cleanup of Saturday's destruction, manage crowds, and prevent further escalation.

Saturday, May 30

A timeline update for Saturday, May 30, created by KUOW graphics designer Teodora Popescu:

Curfew Timeline Seattleproteststimeline
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Credit: KUOW/Teodora Popescu

Update 10:20 p.m. The crowd appears to have diminished downtown. Some groups remain. Police are using flash bangs around 6th Avenue and Pine Street.

Update 8:25 p.m. Law enforcement agencies other than Seattle police responded to the violence in downtown Saturday. Washington State Patrol troopers have been spotted along the street, as well as officers from Tukwila, and deputies with the King County Sheriff's Office.

Update 8:10 p.m. KUOW Reporter Casey Martin reports that some shops in downtown Seattle have been broken into.

Update 8:05 p.m.

Update 7:45 p.m. The Seattle Police Department reports that all rifles stolen from its patrol vehicles earlier Saturday have now been recovered.

Update 7:43 p.m. At a Saturday evening briefing, Mayor Durkan responded to a question regarding police body cameras and why they were turned off during the protests.

"Seattle has a long standing law and culture of not believing that police surveillance is appropriate. And before and police inappropriately gathering intelligence on lawful and peaceful demonstrations is prohibited. And so police department, we do not turn the body cameras on unless we think there's going to be criminal activity or they have to take actions as a police officer, our, our policies are written and were well thought out they were developed with the assistance of a number of people, because we do not want people to believe that police are there to surveil and record lawful protests. And so the body cameras were not on, not to hide what was happening but to respect the right of the protesters."

Update 7:25 p.m. The Seattle Fire Department reports that there remains several fires throughout the downtown area.

Update 7:15 p.m. At a briefing earlier Saturday, Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said that firefighters were not initially able to reach fires in the downtown area. They were eventually escorted to blazes by police.

Scoggins stressed that he supports the right to protest and demonstrate.

“This is not the way to do it, by causing unnecessary chaos and danger to those who are protesting and those in the community," he said. "This situation has escalated quickly and has become very dangerous."

caption: Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins briefs the press after demonstrations turned violent May 30, 2020, causing various fires in the downtown area.
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Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins briefs the press after demonstrations turned violent May 30, 2020, causing various fires in the downtown area.
Credit: City of Seattle

Update 7 p.m. At her briefing earlier Saturday evening, Mayor Durkan said that the city will be investigating reports of police use-of-force, and also looking over video posted on social media showing police interaction with demonstrators.

The city will also look into reports that some officers had covered their badge numbers.

Update 6:30 p.m. The Downtown Seattle Association released a statement saying: "A peaceful protest in Westlake Park this afternoon was hijacked by people a block away who were intent on destruction. Messages of peace and pleas for change were overshadowed by burning cars, black smoke and broken windows....

It’s shameful that some individuals have exploited the tragic killing of George Floyd by resorting to violence and destruction, putting the lives of others at risk, including first responders and those who came downtown to peacefully gather. These are cowardly acts that have no place in our city.”

Update 6:20 p.m. At a press conference this evening, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she issued a civil emergency over the demonstrations and “escalated violence and destruction” in downtown Seattle.

“I understand the immense rage and grief and sense of betrayal felt by so many in our community and communities across this country," Durkan said.

“However, the escalated incidents of destruction and violence do not honor Mr. Floyd," she said. "His own family has spoken against such violence and has urged everyone to demonstrate peacefully. The criminal acts that took place during today’s demonstrations cannot and will not be allowed to continue. They jeopardize the health and safety of all those involved from those demonstrating peacefully, to our first responders, to civilians who happen to be in the area.”

caption: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan briefs the press after demonstrations turned violent May 30, 2020, causing various fires in the downtown area.
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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan briefs the press after demonstrations turned violent May 30, 2020, causing various fires in the downtown area.
Credit: City of Seattle

George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis who has since been charged with third-degree murder, and who is in custody.

Durkan said it was a difficult decision to make, approving the curfew and weapons ban, given that people who live in Seattle enjoy the right to come together.

"It is clear that there was a large number of people who came to protest peacefully. That organizers like Andre Taylor and others were able to speak. The crowd was able to march, and they maintained themselves very peacefully.

"But then we had many thousands of people flow into downtown who obviously were coming, primarily for destruction and very rapidly, the amount of destruction escalated and the situation deteriorated quickly."

Update 5:50 p.m.

Update 5:50 p.m. Two AR-15 rifles were stolen from Seattle police vehicles. One remains outstanding; police recovered the other.

This tweeted video of a live KOMO TV feed shows what is likely the recovery of one of those rifles. Brandi Kruse of Q13 FOX News explained that this man is her team's security guard and "took the AR 15 from the rioter and disabled it. We called 911 and waited to hand it over."

Meanwhile, weapons have been banned in the city of Seattle, per a civil emergency signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan. Weapons, per the order, include guns, rocks, pipes, clubs and flares. The emergency order is citywide, not just confined to downtown.

Several Seattle Police vehicles have been set on fire, the mayor’s memo says.

Multiple people have been injured in the protest, including community members and police officers, according to the mayor’s memo.

Durkan’s memo on Saturday night included more information about the unarmed National Guard personnel called in by Gov. Jay Inslee at the city’s request: They will be assisting for the next seven days.

Demonstrators threw bottles and lit fireworks into crowds, the memo says.

The Seattle Fire Department has limited / completely restricted access to buildings that are on fire.

5:23 p.m. Washington State Governor Jay Inslee announced that the National Guard has been activated and sent to Seattle to assist with the situation there.

Update 5:20 p.m. Mayor Jenny Durkan declared a curfew in Seattle beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday after an afternoon of protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

She made the announcement at 4:46 p.m. on Twitter -- 14 minutes for hundreds, perhaps thousands of people to get word, and then disperse.

And then at 5:18 p.m., officials announced that the state National Guard had been activated. Guard members would be unarmed.

Mayor Durkan requested the Guard to assist with Seattle Police, Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.

"The National Guard is on stand by to assist the Seattle Police Department as requested by Mayor Durkan," Inslee said. "They will be unarmed and assist with infrastructure protection and crowd movement. They will only be utilized if absolutely necessary and we appreciate their efforts to help in this important work."

Durkan said the curfew is in effect until 5 a.m. tomorrow and then will be in effect again Sunday at 5 p.m.

She said it's intended to prevent any violence or property damage ... and to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Residents are advised to remain in their residences "to the extent possible" and to refrain from traveling in and through Seattle.

The mayor's office said the curfew is intended to "prevent violence and widespread property damage, and to prevent the further community spread of COVID-19 through continued gathering."

Officials said the curfew does not apply to people who need to commute to work during these hours, homeless people, people in a medical emergency or people in a dangerous situation, first responders, health care workers, and the news media. They said it also does not require businesses to close while it is in effect, and it will not alter public transit schedules.

Update 5:18 p.m.

Update 4:47 p.m.

Update 4:15 p.m.: Hundreds of people have walked onto Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle during protests over the death of George Floyd.

They entered on the Spring Street entrance and were southbound. The Washington State Patrol said southbound I-5 was closed.

Outside the Nordstrom downtown, a burning police car sent up clouds of dense smoke.

caption: A police car burns outside the Nordstrom in downtown Seattle on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
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A police car burns outside the Nordstrom in downtown Seattle on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
Credit: KUOW photo/Megan Farmer

Update, 3:30 p.m.: Protesters clashed with police in downtown Seattle on Saturday amid nationwide unrest over the death of Floyd in Minneapolis.

Police used pepper spray, and explosions were heard near Westlake Park as thousands of people converged on the area. It was not clear if anyone had been arrested.

At least two rallies had been planned for downtown Seattle on Saturday, and initially they were peaceful as people rallied outside police headquarters and marched to Westlake.

caption: A bystander washes pepper spray from the face of a protester outside the Macy's in downtown Seattle on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Thousands of people were protesting the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd at the hands of police.
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A bystander washes pepper spray from the face of a protester outside the Macy's in downtown Seattle on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Thousands of people were protesting the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Credit: KUOW photo/Casey Martin


Update, 3 p.m.: Seattle police say they'll review an incident during protests overnight Friday in which officers used force.

A video of the incident that circulated on social media appeared to show officers punch a person as they arrested him.

In a statement Chief Carmen Best said:

"During the demonstrations last night, amidst property destruction and confrontations with officers, there were several arrests. In one arrest, which has received media attention, officers used force. Under SPD’s policies relating to crowd management and review of force, any force that is used during the course of last night’s event will undergo a high level of scrutiny and review by the chain of command, SPD’s Force Review Board, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General."

The incident came amid several arrests overnight in downtown Seattle over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Best also addressed reports that officers were ordered to turn off video cameras worn on their uniforms. She said it was untrue.

"Last night, as we do during all First Amendment events, officers only activated the cameras if they believed they were going to witness criminal behavior (SPD Policy 16.090)."

She said under city ordinance, officers are not supposed to record people lawfully engaged in protest.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully in honoring Floyd.

"Everyone has the freedom - and the right - to demonstrate and speak their mind," he said. "However, violence and destruction have no place in Washington state or our country."

Update 2:41 p.m.

Update, 1:35 p.m.: A crowd gathered Saturday in downtown Seattle, protesting the death of George Floyd and those of other African Americans at the hands of police.

Seattle police officers stood by as hundreds of people listened to speakers in the rain outside Police Department headquarters at 5th Avenue and Cherry.

Many in the crowd wore masks as protection against the coronavirus, though it appeared social distancing was difficult.

The crowd then began walking toward Westlake Park, where another protest was planned.

ORIGINAL POST:

Unrest in Seattle over the death of George Floyd led to damage downtown and arrests overnight Friday. More protests are planned Saturday.

People marched downtown Friday evening after a rally in the International District. TV news video showed people breaking windows along Fifth Avenue and clashing with police.

The Seattle Police Department said seven people were arrested.

There have been protests in other cities across the U.S. over the case of Floyd, the African American man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. There was widespread damage in downtown Portland overnight, according to news reports.

Several protests were planned for Saturday in Seattle.

André Taylor, the founder of Not This Time, organized one of those, set for 3 p.m. at Westlake Center.


Update, 3 p.m.: Seattle police say they'll review an incident during protests overnight Friday in which officers used force.

A video of the incident that circulated on social media appeared to show officers punch a person as they arrested him.

In a statement Chief Carmen Best said:

"During the demonstrations last night, amidst property destruction and confrontations with officers, there were several arrests. In one arrest, which has received media attention, officers used force. Under SPD’s policies relating to crowd management and review of force, any force that is used during the course of last night’s event will undergo a high level of scrutiny and review by the chain of command, SPD’s Force Review Board, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General."

The incident came amid several arrests overnight in downtown Seattle over the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd at the hands of police.

Best also addressed reports that officers were ordered to turn off video cameras worn on their uniforms. She said it was untrue.

"Last night, as we do during all First Amendment events, officers only activated the cameras if they believed they were going to witness criminal behavior (SPD Policy 16.090)."

She said under city ordinance, officers are not supposed to record people lawfully engaged in protest.

Meanwhile, Gov. Jay Inslee urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully in honoring Floyd.

"Everyone has the freedom - and the right - to demonstrate and speak their mind," he said. "However, violence and destruction have no place in Washington state or our country."

Update, 1:35 p.m.: A crowd gathered Saturday in downtown Seattle, protesting the death of George Floyd and those of other African Americans at the hands of police.

Seattle police officers stood by as hundreds of people listened to speakers in the rain outside Police Department headquarters at 5th Avenue and Cherry.

Many in the crowd wore masks as protection against the coronavirus, though it appeared social distancing was difficult.

The crowd then began walking toward Westlake Park, where another protest was planned.

ORIGINAL POST:

Unrest in Seattle over the death of George Floyd led to damage downtown and arrests overnight Friday. More protests are planned Saturday.

People marched downtown Friday evening after a rally in the International District. TV news video showed people breaking windows along Fifth Avenue and clashing with police.

The Seattle Police Department said seven people were arrested.

There have been protests in other cities across the U.S. over the case of Floyd, the African American man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer kneeled on his neck. There was widespread damage in downtown Portland overnight, according to news reports.

Several protests were planned for Saturday in Seattle.

André Taylor, the founder of Not This Time, organized one of those, set for 3 p.m. at Westlake Center.

He said it was important for people to be able to express their anger over Floyd's death and the police action that led to that.

"It was disgusting the cavalier attitude the officer had with his hands in his pockets," Taylor said, referring to the police officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck.

"It was like he was saying, 'Eff the cameras. I’m going to show you as a white police officer what I can do to an unarmed black man and there will be no recourse.' What’s the next step? Well, we lead the rest of the country: When we see incidents like this in our cities, here in Washington state, that we make sure that people are convicted for unjustified homicide."

After Floyd's death on Monday, the officer, Derek Chauvin, was fired then later charged with third-degree murder. A criminal complaint against Chauvin says he kneeled on Floyd's neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds -- even after Floyd apparently ceased to breathe.

Organizers of the afternoon protest at Westlake are being asked to use social distancing and masks to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

Other groups have organized two other protests: one Saturday morning at Nathan Hale High School, and one at noon Saturday in downtown Seattle.

In a statement to her officers on Friday, SPD Chief Carmen Best called video of the Floyd incident "disappointing, and infuriating." She said it was troubling that officers stood by while Floyd called for help.

"As a police officer, you have a sworn duty to uphold the law and do what is right. We prioritize the sanctity of life in every situation," Best said.

"If you see a co-worker doing something that is unsafe, out of policy, unacceptable, or illegal, you need to act. This goes beyond reporting. If someone’s life is unnecessarily in danger, it is your responsibility to intervene."

"We each have a right to go home at the end of the day, but we also have a responsibility to ensure that others enjoy that same right."