A crowd of protesters marched through downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill on Sunday afternoon, according to social media and police reports.
Two in the crowd were arrested on suspicion of theft and assault outside the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct downtown after “demonstrators threw rocks, bottles and other items at officers,” police said. SPD said one officer was taken to the hospital with burns to his neck when someone threw fireworks at police, and two other officers had cuts and abrasions. Police used blast balls and pepper spray “to stop the assault on officers,” according to a news release.
Police also reported broken windows, graffiti and other vandalism along the marchers’ path, including at the department’s headquarters, the Municipal Courthouse and the East Precinct. Social media and live stream videos showed broken windows at an Amazon Go store and at a Starbucks.
— Omari Salisbury (@Omarisal) July 20, 2020
Police said in a news release that the vandalism “appeared to be a very concerted effort at property damage of certain businesses and government facilities.”
The protesters broke out several windows of the East Precinct, then threw a device into the lobby that ignited a small fire.
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 20, 2020
As they marched, protesters shouted “No Justice! No Peace” and called for defunding of the SPD.
At one point, a phalanx of police vehicles could be seen on social media and traffic cameras gathered near Ninth Avenue and Pike Street, close to the department’s East Precinct.
The East Precinct was the site of several nights of often violent confrontations between police and protesters last month, resulting in the department abandoning the precinct building, which became the epicenter for the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or CHOP.
CHOP became a police-free zone for several weeks where Black Lives Matter protesters and others gathered until a string of violent crimes, including a pair of homicides, resulted in the city moving to take it back.
Once the crowd Sunday reached the East Precinct, police reported a number of windows were broken and that someone threw a “device” into that building that started a small fire, which was quickly extinguished.
Protests of varying sizes have taken place almost every night in Seattle since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking national outrage over systemic racism, police brutality and violence against people of color.
Another march took place in Wallingford Sunday afternoon, calling for defunding the police.
The Seattle Police Department, which is already under federal oversight over a history of using excessive force, has been sharply criticized by civil libertarians and members of city government for its violent tactics, including the use of tear gas and pepper spray against otherwise mostly peaceful protesters. A call has gone out to defund the department by as much as 50%.
The city council — and a federal judge — have barred SPD from using tear gas, blast balls and other crowd control weapons against peaceful protesters, though the council’s ordinance is not scheduled to take effect until later this month.
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