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‘Thousands’ march across Capitol Hill blocked from downtown in third night of Seattle protests — UPDATE: Rally in Westlake

A Black Lives Matter protester on Sunday's third day of demonstrations

A Black Lives Matter protester on Sunday’s third day of demonstrations

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Two large groups marched across Capitol Hill and “several thousand” were reported gathering around the East Precinct at 12th and Pine in a third day of protest in Seattle against police brutality and racism sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

CHS tracked the marchers as one large group headed up the Hill through Cal Anderson, up to 15th Ave, and back down for a march on Broadway to E Olive Way where it tried to outmaneuver and overpower the large police presence in place blocking access to I-5 and downtown. Some residents cheered from apartment windows and balconies while others posed for mask-covered selfies along the route as police blocked lines of cars to keep traffic clear of the marchers.

Police were successfully repelling the large crowds away from the downtown core after a Saturday of fire, tear gas, and destruction.

Sunday night’s marching started in the hour before the city’s emergency curfew as Capitol Hill’s sunny, last day of May streets remained busy with people. The two groups eventually merged and marched to the East Precinct where most knelt or sat before again moving out around 630 PM as police continue to force containment and stear the groups away from downtown while barricading the East Precinct. Meanwhile, marchers could be heard encouraging restraint — “Do not engage,” one protester told her group as they passed a large contingent of police.

There were reports of a handful of arrests including one at 10th and Pike but CHS saw no tear gas or flash grenades deployed by police as of early evening.

I-5 through Seattle was again closed due to the protests.

According to police radio, Seattle Fire’s Station 25 was taken out of service due to the large crowd filling E Pine near 13th Ave on the eastern perimeter formed by police around the 12th and Pine East Precinct in a densely populated area of apartments full of residents under “stay home” COVID-19 restrictions, and shuttered bars, and restaurants.

Earlier on Sunday, Mayor Jenny Durkan repeated her belief that there were two types of protesters this weekend — those there for peaceful demonstrations and, as she said, those taking opportunistic, more violent actions. Durkan promised “a high level of scrutiny and review” after multiple complaints and videos showed aggressive arrests and sometimes brutal looking crowd control tactics. Some of the videos, Durkan said, should be viewed with skepticism.  “The context of what happened before is important,” the mayor said.

The mayor did not say what the city is doing to address biased policing and police brutality in Seattle and if there any immediate actions the city can take to show that those voices were heard. Durkan also was not clear what peaceful protesters have done to demonstrate without drawing SPD’s strong response.

Durkan and SPD Chief Carmen Best have promised a full review of arrests including demographics and where the people are from, plus a timeline of the incidents that led to the escalation of police tactics during the protests.

Best said she as a Black woman was angry “about the murder of George Floyd” and the “justice system that creates disproportionate harm for black and brown people.” But she said her officers were doing their jobs and showing restraint despite “deliberate intent to hurt officers.” She also said Seattle has the “most accountability of any place in the country” when it comes to policing.

The Community Police Commission has said it is meeting Wednesday to discuss the protests and the police response. People have been encouraged to report evidence of police misconduct to the commission. You can learn more about the CPC here.

UPDATE 7:25 PM: A large crowd formed on First Hill and was making a push for downtown through a police-established line at Madison and Boren. Seattle Black Lives Matter organizers and police were reportedly in discussion about where the march would be allowed to continue.

UPDATE 8:10 PM: Seattle Police began shifting officers to downtown as the standoff at Boren and Madison was relaxed after groups began making their way around the core of the police line to cross I-5. Meanwhile, another large group was reported at Cal Anderson where music played and protesters gathered to sort out whether to continue or head home.

UPDATE 9:30 PM: A large crowd formed in Westlake Park and carried on the protest with the clashes and violence seen Saturday as police presence increased in the downtown core. SPD has given multiple notices that the crowds are in violation of the city’s curfew but no dispersal order had been given as of 9:30 PM. Organizers were asking protesters to comply so the groups could reconvene Monday afternoon. Confrontations were continuing with police and protesters who refused to leave Westlake or who weren’t exiting Westlake via the SPD-approved southend exit from the park.


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