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Seattle Protests for Civil Rights
caption: People lift their candles in the air during a vigil for Black lives at Jefferson Park on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Seattle. 
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People lift their candles in the air during a vigil for Black lives at Jefferson Park on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Updates on protests and demonstrations in the Seattle area

Demonstrations and protests for racial justice continue in Western Washington. What to know:

  • The back story: After weeks of protests, Seattle police retreated from the East Precinct at 11th and Pine on Capitol Hill, leaving it empty and boarded up. Protesters began blocking off an area around it on Capitol Hill, first naming it CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone), and then renaming it CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest).
  • Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, July 1, Seattle police began efforts to clear people from the CHOP zone. Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an emergency order to vacate the area.
  • The rallying cry has been to defund the police. Here's what that means.
  • Deaths and injuries: There have been four shootings, resulting in two deaths, that occurred in or near the CHOP. It is unclear whether the shooters have a connection to the protest. On Saturday, July 4, a motorist sped through a protest on Interstate 5, killing Summer Taylor, a 24-year-old demonstrator, and seriously harming Diaz Love, also part of the demonstration.

FRIDAY, JULY 10

SPD officer involved in collision near protesters leaves force

6p.m. -- The Seattle Police Department says an off-duty police officer involved in a collision during a Black Lives Matter protest no longer works there.

The July 4th incident involved allegations of protesters blocking the intersection at Boren and Olive Way the officer was attempting to drive through, when another vehicle struck the car. Police say no injuries were reported at the time.

The collision happened the same night a man drove a vehicle into another crowd of protesters on I-5 in downtown Seattle, killing one and seriously injuring another.

The Office of Police Accountability is reviewing the case.

-- Kim Malcolm

Seattle Councilmember Pedersen seeks details on SPD budget cuts

2 p.m. - Seattle City Councilmember Alex Pedersen says he’s not ready to commit to defunding the Seattle Police Department by a specific amount. He says he wants to get more details from the seven council members who have promised to cut the police budget in half.

But Pedersen says he’s open to reallocating law enforcement dollars. “For me it’s the outcome of people feeling safe, people getting an appropriate response from the city that serves the communities asking for that response," he said. "Committing to a certain percentage or number is something that I think we need to do through the budget process.”

He said he supports shifting more emergency calls to mental health workers, for example. Councilmember Debora Juarez hasn't weighed in on the 50 percent cut to SPD that community groups are seeking, but said last month she supported the principle of defunding the police.

The council is currently looking at changes to this year’s and next year’s budget.

-- Amy Radil

Majority of council says it favors 50% SPD funding reduction

8 a.m. -- A majority (7 out of the 9) of Seattle City Council members now say they support defunding the Police department by 50%.

They joined Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now for an online discussion yesterday. Both groups want to see that money reinvested in other community and response programs.

Mayor Durkan has proposed a 5% reduction to the police department's budget, but has not endorsed a 50% cut.

On Thursday, Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss, and Andrew Lewis expressed their support for the changes. They join Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, Teresa Mosqueda, and Lorena González.

Six votes are needed to pass budget-related legislation and to override a mayoral veto.

--Angela King

THURSDAY, JULY 9

Attorneys claim SPD use of blast balls violates federal court order

5 p.m. - Despite a court order forbidding “indiscriminate” use of crowd control weapons, Seattle police have continued to use blast balls that emit “OC” (pepper spray) in multiple instances July 1-4, according to a letter submitted Thursday to the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Attorneys representing Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit over the crowd-control weapons said the city’s own description, as well as evidence they gathered, suggest SPD violated the preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones June 12, which prohibits indiscriminate deployment of chemical irritants in crowds.

The letter adds, “SPD’s use of blast balls and ‘less lethal projectiles’ is plainly inconsistent” with the city's new ordinance “scheduled to take effect July 26, which unequivocally bans the use of such weapons, and represents a resounding repudiation of the tactics deployed by SPD against protesters over the past six weeks.” They said, “Although the ordinance has yet to come into effect, it is startling, and highly concerning, that SPD has continued to deploy these weapons at protests despite the City’s clear intention to ban their use.”

The letter signed by Seattle attorney David Perez asked the City Attorney’s office to confirm by July 13 that the city will immediately direct SPD officers not to use OC-infused blast balls.

-- Amy Radil


Seattle council considers 50% funding reduction for police

Calls to slash SPD budget growing louder

Calls to slash SPD budget growing louder

9 a.m. -- Calls to slash the Seattle police budget are growing louder in and now city council members are discussing proposals to do so by 50%.

The Seattle Police Department responds to an average of 609 calls from the public each day. Department staff told the city council this week that the majority of that time -- 70% -- is spent on urgent calls, like crimes in progress.

But organizers with Decriminalize Seattle say community groups could do much of that work instead. They argue that it's time for the SPD to shrink in size.

Jackie Vaughn is an organizer with the coalition.

"We need people and responders who have not been trained or indoctrinated by police," Vaughn said. "With these funds, we would repurpose SPD dollars to violence prevention and restorative justice organizations so that we can reduce the future of 911 calls."

Decriminalize Seattle is asking the city council to replace the current 911 operations with a civilian-led system, invest in housing for all, and more.

City Council members are weighing at least one proposal to defund SPD by 50%. Mayor Jenny Durkan has proposed a 5% reduction so far, in response to budget shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

--Paige Browning

WEDNESDAY, JULY 8

Seattle man charged with two felonies for driving into group of protesters

Driver charged for driving into crowd of protesters on I-5

Driver charged for driving into crowd of protesters on I-5

4 p.m. - The King County Prosecutor’s Office has charged Dawit Kelete, 27, with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving, a gross misdemeanor, for racing his car into a group of Black Lives Matter protesters on I-5.

Charging documents don’t shed much light on what motivated Kelete’s actions early Saturday. They do allege that Kelete drove his car up an exit ramp, around cars parked as barriers, and into the group protesting against racism and police brutality on the closed section of interstate.

The impact killed one protester, Summer Taylor. Another, Diaz Love, is hospitalized with fractures and internal injuries. After the collision, a man who said he was “informally providing security to the demonstrators” drove after Kelete and blocked his way until the Washington State Patrol arrived to arrest him.

Investigators say Kelete did not seem impaired and denied having any known mental health issues. He told police he works as a cashier at an Arco station, is a full-time student, and has an untreated addiction to the painkiller Percocet. The judge set Kelete’s bail at $1.2 million dollars; he’s scheduled to be arraigned July 22.

-- Amy Radil

King County asking businesses to report recent damage

9 a.m. -- Businesses that saw damage due to looting or other property destruction in Seattle recently are being invited to share their reports with King County. Officials say that businesses could be eligible for financial assistance.

“In the absence of adequate insurance coverage, the Small Business Administration Disaster Loan Program could be an important source of funds for qualifying businesses that suffered damage as a result of recent civil unrest,” said Brendan McCluskey, director of King County Emergency Management.

During protests over police violence and the death of George Floyd last month, some people joined the crowds and caused property destruction, looting businesses throughout the city.

King County's emergency management department says people have until 5 p.m. on July 17 to submit damage reports, in order to be eligible for financial assistance from the county.

Reports can be submitted:

  • Online at kingcounty.gov/damage
  • By phone at 1-800-523-5044 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. until July 17.
  • Photos of damage may be submitted to damagereporting@kingcounty.gov

--Paige Browning

Seattle Council reviewing SPD budget

8:30 a.m. -- The Seattle City Council expected to continue it's review of the SPD's budget on Wednesday.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has proposed a $20 million cut -- about 5% of the total police budget.

But those who've been protesting police violence against Black people have demanded that SPD be defunded by 50%.

--Angela King

Constantine, Inslee address controversial detective posts on social media

King County sheriff's detective under investigation for social media posts

King County sheriff's detective under investigation for social media posts

8 a.m. -- King County Executive Dow Constantine is responding to questions about King County Detective Mike Brown.

Brown was a member of Constantine's security detail and is now being investigated for derogatory posts that showed up on a Facebook account under his name.

One post included a meme and the words "All Lives Splatter." It appeared the same night a driver hit two protesters on I-5, killing one of them.

When pressed on KUOW's The Record Tuesday over whether Brown will be fired for the posts, Constantine said that the situation will come down to policies.

“That is an issue that Sheriff is going to have to decide based on the existing policies. It is obviously very tricky because he's posting on his personal social media.”

And Governor Jay Inslee also spoke out about Brown who happens to be his cousin. Inslee said “The language is unacceptable and just flat wrong.”

--Casey Martin

TUESDAY, JULY 7

Sheriff's detective who wrote offensive social media post is Gov. Inslee's cousin

12:05 p.m. -- Washington Governor Jay Inslee acknowledged that his cousin is the detective at the center of a social media controversy, saying that the "language is unacceptable and just flat wrong."

King County Sheriff's Detective Mike Brown is under investigation after he allegedly posted insensitive memes on Facebook. One stated "All Lives Splatter" and was posted shortly have a driver ran over two protesters on I-5, killing one.

Sheriff's detective under investigation after 'ALL LIVES SPLATTER' post

7:30 a .m. -- A King County sheriff's detective is under investigation over Facebook posts that were made shortly after a driver hit two demonstrators on I-5 over the weekend.

In one, a meme read "ALL LIVES SPLATTER."

Another post last month said CHOP protesters renamed Cal Anderson Park the Lil renz Last Stand Park. Lorenzo Anderson was the 19-year-old who was shot and killed near the park.

The Facebook page was inaccessible after Twitter users posted screen shots of the posts found there.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht said she's trying to determine whether the Facebook account belonged to Detective Mike Brown.

She said all Sheriff's Office workers who commented or liked the posts will also be investigated.

KOMO reported that Brown was on the security detail for King County Executive Dow Constantine.

-- Angela King

MONDAY, JULY 6

Bail for driver in fatal I-5 crash set at $1.2 million

Bail set for man who drove into protesters on I-5

Bail set for man who drove into protesters on I-5

5 p.m. -- Bail was set Monday at $1.2 million for the man accused of driving his car into a group of protesters in Seattle this weekend, killing one person and injuring another.

Activists from the former CHOP gathered on a corner outside King County District Court.

“I believe that his bail should have been completely denied,” said Rashyla Levitt. “You know that man killed a person and hurt another one critically. He's a complete danger to society and to our community.”

She and the others set up food for protesters released from jail.

Flowers were placed for Summer Taylor, the person killed early Saturday.

KUOW is not naming the driver until he is charged. That could come later this week.

-- Casey Martin

Confederate memorial toppled in Seattle

8:45 a.m. -- The United Confederate Veterans Memorial in Seattle’s Lakeview Cemetery was toppled over the weekend.

It was originally erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926 and has been defaced several times since.

While there's no official word on who pulled it down, the South Seattle Emerald reports that a group of unnamed local activists supportive of racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement is taking credit.

Monuments that opponents say pay tribute to white supremacy and the preservation of slavery have been coming down all across the country in recent weeks.

There is no word on whether the one at Lakeview -- a private cemetery in the Capitol Hill neighborhood -- will be restored.

--Angela King

Driver expected in court Monday

8:30 a.m. -- The 27-year-old man accused of speeding through a group of demonstrators on I-5 over the weekend, and hitting two of them, is expected to make his first court appearance later today.

Saturday's deadly collision killed 24-year-old Summer Taylor and seriously injured 32-year-old Diaz Love. Love remains in the ICU at Harborview Medical Center. Taylor was actively involved in the Black Lives Matter protests in the city.

I-5 between I-90 and SR520 was briefly shut down on Sunday because of demonstrators in the area -- no one was on the freeway. The Washington State Patrol says it will no longer allow protesters to enter I-5 following Saturday's crash.

--Angela King

SPD seeking media photos, videos

8:15 a.m. -- The Seattle Police Department has issued a subpoena for photos and video of protests from media organizations.

The police want to obtain unpublished pictures from the May 30 protests to identify those who helped set several police vehicles on fire in the downtown area and stole weapons from the cars.

An affidavit for a search warrant calls for news outlets like The Seattle Times and local TV stations to release unedited videos and photos from a 90-minute afternoon period on May 30.

A lawyer for The Seattle Times called the SPD's effort a "fishing expedition."

--Angela King

Seattle-area companies pause social media spending while considering its role in spreading hate

8 a.m. -- Microsoft, Zillow and Redfin say they're hitting pause on their social media spending.

They are joining a growing number of companies that say they are concerned about the spread of hate speech on Facebook. At the same time, the social media company faces a growing boycott titled Stop Hate For Profit. The effort includes 800 companies which are ceasing all spending on the platform.

Zillow and Redfin and Microsoft say they are not officially boycotting. But they are pulling back from social media to study its role in transmitting hate speech.

The companies are responding to calls to go beyond the statements they've recently made in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Starbucks and REI have made similar announcements.

Facebook has responded to the boycott with a statement titled "Facebook Does Not Benefit From Hate."

Read more details here.

--Carolyn Adolph

SATURDAY, JULY 4

One protester hit by car on I-5 has died; one remains hospitalized.

9:20 p.m. - Harborview spokesperson Susan Gregg announced that one of the victims of the hit-and-run collision on I-5 has died. She wrote, "Summer Taylor, 24, critically injured today after being struck by a vehicle on I-5 in Seattle, has passed away earlier this evening at Harborview Medical Center. Diaz Love, 32, remains serious in intensive care at Harborview."

10:20 a.m. - A 27-year-old Seattle man has been arrested and booked on two possible counts of vehicular assault after he drove into a group of protesters on Interstate 5 in Seattle.

The interstate had been closed to accommodate a group protesting against racism and police brutality. At about 1:40 a.m., the driver, who was in a white Jaguar, sped around the vehicles blocking the freeway, and slammed into the demonstrators, injuring two people. Both victims are in critical condition in intensive care at Harborview. The Washington State Patrol says the driver did not seem to be impaired, and they are investigating his motive.

7:30 a.m. -- A car slammed into two pedestrians who were on a part of I-5 that had been closed for protests during the early morning hours. Two people were transported to Harborview Medical Center, one in critical condition. The driver of the car is in custody. There is no information yet whether the act was intentional. The car appeared to go around the barrier blocking the freeway at Olive way. The incident happened a little after 2 a.m.

Read previous updates here.