At least 12 Seattle officers injured during demonstration, department says

Rioters threw fireworks, rocks and bottles at the officers


By Mike Carter
The Seattle Times

SEATTLE — Police officers were injured and arrests were made during a large demonstration Sunday afternoon in which protesters marched through downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill, according to the Seattle Police Department.

At least 12 officers were injured, according to the department. Two people 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 other officers had cuts and abrasions. Police used blast balls and pepper spray “to stop the assault on officers,” according to a news release.

Seattle Police officers stand guard outside the East Precinct Building, Sunday, July 19, 2020 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seattle Police officers stand guard outside the East Precinct Building, Sunday, July 19, 2020 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Police said in a blotter post that there were essentially two groups of demonstrators, peaceful ones who had gathered at Westlake Park around 10:30 a.m. and a group of bat-wielding individuals who joined about three hours later.

“… individuals within this group appeared to be very organized and this appeared to be a very concerted effort at property damage of certain businesses and government facilities,” police said in the post.

The group first marched southbound on Fifth Avenue, with some individuals breaking windows and spray-painting building. When they got to the Seattle Police Headquarters and Seattle Municipal Court police say they broke windows and spray painted both buildings.

The demonstration then marched northbound on Third Avenue, with some people targeting certain business for window-smashing, graffiti and looting, police said.

The group eventually made it to the West Precinct and some individuals attempted to break into the building.

“Protesters threw rocks and bottles at the officers who were outside defending the precinct,” police wrote. “An unknown person or persons threw multiple large mortar-type fireworks at officers from a close range. Multiple officers were injured by the fireworks thrown at them.”

Two officers suffered lacerations and abrasion injuries while a third officer sustained burns to his neck; He was treated by the Seattle Fire Department and then taken to a hospital, police said.

Police said they used blast balls and pepper spray to stop the assault on police at the West Precinct and two people were arrested, one for assault and the other for theft.

The march then made its way up to Capitol Hill, where some individuals in the group caused more damage, breaking things, looting and setting a small fire was set inside one of the businesses after the windows had been broken out.

When the group got to the East Precinct, several people smashed out the front windows and a large, mortar-type firework was thrown inside the lobby of the precinct, causing a small fire.

The fire was extinguished quickly and police found another unlit large mortar-type firework nearby.

The protesters made their way to Cal Anderson Park, where the group eventually broke up.

Social media and live stream videos showed broken windows at an Amazon Go store and at a Starbucks.

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.

©2020 The Seattle Times

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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