Using a heavy presence of uniformed officers on the street and with SWAT teams at the ready, Seattle’s East Precinct clamped down on an annual Pride weekend demonstration early Sunday morning, putting an end to the Capitol Hill march by hitting the crowd with pepper spray and taking six people into custody on E Madison.
All details at this point are preliminary and have not been confirmed with SPD. UPDATE: SPD’s report on the incident is below.
According to police radio, six people were taken into custody and transported to the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine.
On a night when nearby streets were crowded with Pride beer gardens and thousands of revelers, a crowd of around 50 people marched onto E Pike and met a phalanx of Seattle police in riot gear in the 10th Ave intersection around 1a. In front and behind the police line, Pride celebrants wandered, took pictures and, sometimes, danced along with the group of dozens of protesters.
In 2011, a much larger group roamed Pike/Pine and Broadway inflicting damage to windows, cars and walls. We reported earlier that the East Precinct was prepared for a repeat of the event this year. The precinct had “an emphasis patrol operating also that will allow us to designate resources for developing situations,” a representative told CHS earlier this week.
Sunday morning, the group of 50 or so marched away from the SPD line at 10th and Pike with a heavy contingent of officers on foot and in cars following. The group again attempted to enter the Pike/Pine area near the Wildrose Pride party but was blocked by another line of police. The marchers headed back out and onto E Madison where SPD ordered the group out of the street and onto the sidewalk as SWAT vehicles arrived and blocked the group’s path near 13th Ave just between Pony and the Madison Pub.
As pushing and shoving broke out, police quickly deployed pepper spray on the crowd and several participants were wrestled to the ground and taken into custody.
Seattle Fire was was called to the precinct to treat at least four people for pepper spray exposure. Fire also was called to the scene at 13th and Madison later in the morning for another person who reported being sickened by the spray.
In 2011, CHS reported on a group of more than 100 hundred people dancing in the streets of Pike/Pine and on Broadway — as well as busting glass and tangling with police in riot gear. One person was arrested.
The 2012 response from SPD shut the event down without any reports of significant property damage. Earlier on Saturday, however, Seattle Fire responded to the Key Bank on 15th Ave E to deal with what we have been told was an attempt to damage the bank’s ATM.
Sunday morning’s arrests were the second time this week that East Precinct had moved quickly and decisively to remove a group of protesters from a Capitol Hill street. Wednesday, CHS reported on the arrest of one person as SPD shut down a march against student debt that refused to leave the street on Broadway.
UPDATE 6/24/12 7:15a — Here is video of the incident sent to CHS:
UPDATE 9:35a — And another starting in the midst of the conflict: