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With new energy — and demands — from Central District rally, second week of protest in Seattle begins — UPDATE: Elected officials join protest after burst of flash bangs on Capitol Hill

Horse mounted protesters were part of the scene in the Central District

PJ (left) and Chaka Khan (right) were part of the Friday night protest and rally scene in the Central District (Image: Jake Goldstein-Street)

With reporting by Jake Goldstein-Street

UPDATE 7:48 PM: A calm but energetic protest became a chaotic mess in a burst of police firepower Saturday night. The situation came to a head around 7:40 PM as police were attempting to push a large crowd of demonstrators back from the frontline fencing and put National Guard troops in place. After reports of police grabbing umbrellas and moving on the crowd, an order to disperse was given, followed by pepper spray and a hail of loud flash bangs and designed to create explosions of smoke and fire to clear away crowds.

“You have been given an order to disperse,” a command officer repeated over the area’s public address system installed in recent days to help better communicate with protesters. Police were threatening the use of pepper spray and other “less lethal” weaponry if protesters did not comply.

Protesters were reported scattering from the scene and regrouping on nearby streets.

Multiple people were reported detained.

UPDATE 9:15 PM: Seattle Police reports that “several officers” were injured during the incident and that small explosives were thrown at police:

Image from a Facebook livestream behind the police line

Crowds have reformed and police and National Guard troops were back in place behind the barrier at 11th and Pine. Police announcements asked the crowd to “please respect” the barriers so that “First Amendment” activities could continue.

“We are committed to a peaceful protest,” the command officer said during the address. “Please respect the police lines.”

UPDATE 11:28 PM: A contingent of Seattle elected leaders has gathered at the protest in a visit to the front line. “Calling on @carmenbest @SeattlePD @MayorJenny to STOP this! Move the police line back to the barricade at least, dont spray, gas, flash/noise bombs,” council member Teresa Mosqueda writes. 43rd District rep Nicole Macri, King County Council member Girmay Zahilay, State Joe Nguyen, plus fellow city council members Dan Strauss, Lisa Herbold, and Andrew Lewis joined Mosqueda in the show of solidarity with protesters.

UPDATE 11:55 PM: After a request to Chief Best from the assembled set of elected officials, the line of police and Guard troops was moved back to create more distance between the groups and to give demonstrators more room.

UPDATE 6/7/2020 6:50 AM: The overnight hours following the Saturday night outburst saw no further large-scale police escalation of crowd control tactics but there were reports of at least one major protest-related arrest effort on Capitol Hill away from the 11th and Pine core.

SPD posted a brief on the Saturday night escalation that brought elected officials to the front of the protest in response and upped the volume on calls for Mayor Durkan to resign:

During the on-going protests in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, officers deployed blast balls and pepper spray to temporarily disperse the crowd after individuals in the group threw bottles, rocks, and incendiary devices broke through a fence line, and several officers were injured. Just after 7 PM Saturday the scene commander began warning the protesters at 11 Avenue and East Pine Street to stop pushing the barriers placed there. Some unidentified people in the group began throwing bottles, rocks, and incendiary devices at officers who had moved forward to push the barriers back to their location. The group refused to back up and officers deployed pepper spray and blast balls in an attempt to push the crowd back. The protesters moved back a block and officers were able to reset the barriers. Several officers were injured during the incident and two were taken to Harborview Medical Center to treatment of their wounds. There was no CS gas deployed during this confrontation.

ORIGINAL REPORT: A second Friday of actions in Seattle brought new demands and new calls for justice as thousands gathered in the Central District for a “teach-in,” a rally, and a march to the city’s protest core outside the East Precinct at 12th and Pine for another relatively peaceful night of chanting and anti-police demonstration..

“We’re creating these environments, these networks and we’re using our platforms. I don’t want to see nobody with over 1K of a follower not post this rally today,” one speaker said during the afternoon rally in the parking lot at 23rd and Jackson. “I don’t care if you got 200 followers. I want to see it on your social media.”

The rally — filled with speakers, community support, music and dancing, free barbecue, and, yes, protest horses — filled the parking lot at a rapidly changing corner of the Central District where a massive mixed-use development from Vulcan apparent Amazon grocery store is rising across the street.

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Hip hop artist Raz Simone’s evening arrival brought the teach-in to a close as the rally transitioned to a boisterous but deliberate march across the Central District onto Capitol Hill via 23rd and Union where Simone called out neighborhood pot shop Uncle Ike’s for gentrification and profiting from a drug trade that was illegal — and deadly — only a few years ago.

The Africatown-sponsored rally and march also kicked off a renewed King County Equity Now effort calling for new demands includings calls for officials to accept proposals from “Black-led, community-based organizations to maximize” the use of “underutilized public land for community benefit” at a roster of Central Seattle properties:

  • Decommissioned Fire Station 6 on 23rd and Yesler to become William Grose Center for Enterprise as designated in the City of Seattle Equitable Development Plan
  • Vacant Sound Transit lot on Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. and S. Angeline St. to become Youth Achievement Center
  • Formally Black-owned Paramount Nursing Home recently acquired by Washington State to revert to Black-community ownership.
  • Seattle Housing Authority Operations Site (Martin Luther King Jr. Way S. & Dearborn) to become affordable housing.
  • Halt development at the King County Records Site project on 13th and Yesler to allow for equitable participation by a Black-led, community-based organization
  • Halt the corrupt Priority Development Area proposal for the Seattle Vocational Institute (“SVI”) put forward by the Washington State Department of Commerce to conduct and start a new RFP process that is truly open, transparent and accountable to the community in which SVI is located

The King County Equity Now initiatives announced Friday also added new layers to calls from the “#defundSPD” movement for a 50% reduction in the Seattle Police Department’s budget:

You can learn more at

A large group of community organizations and businesses also supported Friday’s rally including the Artist Coalition for Equitable Development, Black Dot, Black Elephant Party, Black Health & Wellness Network, Black Star Line African Center Education, Coalition for Inclusive Development, Def Chef Kitchen, Equity Now Coalition, Federal Way Youth Action Team, Flourish Financial, Give Me Exclusive, The Postman Seattle, Presidenta Media, Replanting Roots Rebuilding Community, SproutU, Umoja Peace Center, Wa Na Wari, and 206 Zulu.

With Simone leading the way at the mic with a van and a Tesla at the lead, the massive group of marchers made its way to 11th and Pine where it joined the now entrenched group of protesters that continues to demonstrate throughout the day and night outside the East Precinct headquarters.

Friday night, protesters and police followed a pattern closer to an energetic standoff than the near-warzone that was created earlier in the week before a City Hall clamp-down on aggressive crowd control tactics. Earlier Friday, those tactics were further calmed when Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city would suspend use of tear gas for 30 days after its heavy deployment during conflicts earlier in the week of protests.

Durkan’s police chief Carmen Best, however, presented a kind of double-edged sword about the sudden change. Best said Friday the use of tear gas by SPD was a rarity not seen since the WTO riots and a  response to the department running low on pepper spray and flash bangs. “We have our resources back in place and that authorization has been restored,” she said about the spray and grenades used to clear crowds.

Durkan said all crowd control tactics will be part of a review carried out by oversight bodies and in compliance with federal oversight but that only the tear gas canisters will be locked away for now.

Residents near the East Precinct are also working to organize a response to the use of tear gas in the mixed-use neighborhood as the chemical agent seeped into businesses and apartment buildings in the area.

The pull-back on tear gas joins a roster of advances won by demonstrators and activist groups as protests continue. Wednesday, leaders including activist and lawyer Nikkita Oliver began talks with Mayor Durkan on efforts to reform policing in Seattle and “#defundSPD” demands to radically reduce the police department’s budget, increase spending on social programs, and pledge to drop charges against the 90+ people arrested so far during the demonstrations. Durkan and Chief Best also agreed to drop the city’s nightly curfew after criticism that it inhibited fair and legal protest and the City Attorney announced Seattle’s bid to end or reduce the federal consent decree oversight of its police force in place for years after findings of biased policing would also be put on ice.

Thursday, there was more progress as Durkan announced she had asked officials to review Seattle Police crowd control policy in light of what she called “the pink umbrella incident” — the moment Monday night that set off a riot on Capitol Hill when police reacted to a pink umbrella thrust over the barrier outside the East Precinct at 11th and Pine with a barrage of pepper spray and blast grenades that led to a night filled with clouds of tear gas throughout Pike/Pine and a major clash with protesters.

After nights of complaints about officers covering their badge numbers, Chief Best also announced a new policy covering so-called “mourning bands” used by police to express respect for fallen officers. The new guidelines require all officers to “have their badge numbers prominently displayed.”

A new setup and new marching orders for police at 11th and Pine (Image courtesy of a neighborhood livestream — thanks!)

Friday night also brought further changes to the environment at 11th and Pine and the heart of the protest standoff where police and the National Guard have created even more distance between themselves and the crowd with a double set of fences set up like the security line at the front of a concert and the mosh pit and police separated into two groups on either side of Pine and protected by large plastic street barriers after an officer was struck by a thrown rock the previous night and had to be taken to Harborview with a leg injury. Other changes include a better public address system and — bring your shades — large security light poles that shine brightly on the crowd.

Protesters, meanwhile Friday night, continued to add green lasers to their arsenal — devices popularized in global protests and used to hinder the sight of police firing rubber bullets and tear gas. Bagpipes, and a trumpet player in previous nights were also replaced by a quieter Friday option — a mellow flutist joined the crowd.

The business community around the Capitol Hill protest site, hobbled by COVID-19 restrictions, also continued to support the crowds with venues including Vermillion, La Dive, Caffe Vita, and Optimism Brewing hosting community aid supplies and, importantly, bathrooms.

Community aid stations boasted.a sometimes ridiculous overabundance of snacks and supplies but organizers said other items like blankets, hand warmers, garbage bags, pens, and hand sanitizer would be useful donations as of Saturday morning.

With concerns still warranted about COVID-19 spread, some were organizing trips to the city’s new free testing clinics.

While Friday’s eighth day of protest in honor and anger over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police brought another relatively calm night to the busy scene around 11th and Pine and Cal Anderson, it was not fully peaceful. A medical incident in the crowd around 11 PM brought boos and condemnation for police who forced an AMR ambulance to back up and take another route instead of being allowed up E Pine to leave the area. And concern spread rapidly across social media after a person was taken into custody in an incident that also involved a child and brought a massive police response on Summit Ave around 9PM.

Saturday’s planned protest activity includes a morning march that began at Harborview for health workers speaking out against racism and and evening Rally for Black Lives in North Seattle at Magnusson Park.

Activists and many members of the 43rd District Democrats, meanwhile, are also taking their activism online in an effort to call for Mayor Durkan to step down or for the City Council to move to remove her. City Council member Kshama Sawant, meanwhile, says she will introduce two bills Monday to ban SPD’s use of chemical weapons and chokeholds.

UPDATE 3:33 PM: Sawant has also joined those calling for a Durkan resignation. The last Seattle mayor to resign? Well, it wasn’t that long ago. Haunted by allegations of sexual abuse, Mayor Ed Murray resigned in September of 2017. Here is the statement from Sawant’s office:

The brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has lit a spark of national and global protest by youth and working people fed up with this racist, violent, and deeply unequal society under capitalism. In Seattle, thousands upon thousands of ordinary people have come out courageously in daily protests to demand justice for police killings and systemic change.


It has been tragically ironic that this growing movement against police violence and brutality has been consistently met with more violence and brutality. The responsibility for this vicious targeting of these overwhelmingly peaceful protests in Seattle lies with Mayor Jenny Durkan.


Durkan and the city’s Democratic Party establishment have utterly failed ordinary people. Since the first protests on Saturday, May 30, Durkan has repeatedly unleashed Seattle police to use ever-escalating violence against ordinary people protesting the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other black and brown people.


Under Durkan’s direction, the police have inflicted tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, flashbang grenades, curfews, arrests, and other repressive tactics on Seattle activists and residents – including children – in an attempt to bully and silence the protest movement. The police, under Durkan’s leadership, have deployed militaristic tactics in full riot gear to try to spread fear among ordinary people. Video footage reveals that the police appear to come prepared with instructions and equipment to orchestrate violence.


That is why, as a socialist elected representative accountable to Seattle’s working people, it is my duty to join with the rapidly-growing calls in the community for Jenny Durkan to step down.


Even before the events of this past week, Durkan was failing the people of Seattle.


She aligned with the Trump administration and the police in seeking to get the police department out from under the federal oversight of the consent decree – even as police brutality towards and killings of black and brown people, poor and homeless neighbors, and those facing mental illness, continue unabated. Her administration has ignored repeated community efforts to halt the inhumane and homeless sweeps of homeless encampments, and has in fact doubled down on the sweeps policy. The sweeps have even been continued during the pandemic, despite cries of outrage from throughout the community.


Since being elected with the help of a record political donation by Amazon, Durkan has doggedly fought to maintain the tax haven that Amazon and other big businesses enjoy and fought against progressive taxation.


Tens of thousands of Seattle residents have lost jobs and income in the last two months; countless are on the verge of homelessness, and are struggling to get food and basic necessities. Yet even now, Durkan insists on protecting Amazon and other pandemic profiteers from taxation to fund urgent human needs.


Worse, she is poised to unveil a new austerity budget, which would brutally slash hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for already underfunded social programs, further risking the health and safety of working people so that the billionaires can continue to skate free. On April 23, as working people had already begun to reel from the pandemic recession, Durkan flatly rejected the Amazon Tax, saying: “Yeah, that never is going to happen, and I think it’s irresponsible for anyone to say that that’s even possible.”


Socialist Alternative and I have no illusions that simply putting a liberal Democratic politician in the Mayor’s office is going to solve the problems that working people and communities of color face in this deeply unequal city. Notwithstanding that, there are many honest and progressive rank-and-file activists in local Democratic Party organizations who do important work in the movement, and whom we are proud to work alongside. The initial call for Durkan’s resignation has in fact been led by many of these grassroots Democratic Party activists. I urge the Democratic Party City Councilmembers to also join the rank and file of their party and the community in calling for Mayor Durkan to resign.


Our movement must also recognize the longstanding truth that fundamentally, the Democratic Party at the national level is bought and paid for by the titans of Wall Street, and loyally serves corporate interests at the local level. Our movement needs to build independent political power and a new party for working people that takes no corporate money and is accountable to our movements.


Mayor Durkan has failed the working people of Seattle since day one of her administration. She has now abused her power, and harmed thousands of ordinary people on the streets – all in defense of big business and the status quo of racism and inequality.


This past week has been the final straw.


It is time for Jenny Durkan to finally be held accountable. It is time for her to go.


If Mayor Durkan refuses to step aside, it will be the responsibility of the City Council to remove her, by introducing articles of impeachment.

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28 thoughts on “With new energy — and demands — from Central District rally, second week of protest in Seattle begins — UPDATE: Elected officials join protest after burst of flash bangs on Capitol Hill” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. So what has Sawant done in all her time on Council regarding SPD? Anything? Or is this just another opportunity for her to spout hot air out of her noise hole again? Just another chance for her to co-opt the movement for her own agenda. She’s just pissed her bullshit Amazon Tax got vetoed – and rightly so – her attempt to ram it through during the COVID emergency was an attempt to avoid a referendum and commit an end run around democracy. Oh…wait…of course. She doesn’t believe in democracy.

    • Because there is nothing more un democratic than trying to pass legislation the voters elected her to pass. Typical ignorant right wing ‘logic’.

      • If she’s trying to pass it without following the procedures of the City Council that she signed on for when she gave her oath of office, yes, it’s un-democratic.
        I don’t know that she is, but that was AbleDanger’s claim, not that she was trying to get the legislation passe,d but that she was trying to “ram it through” when everyone was distracted.
        The counter argument you should have made is not that she was trying to pass it, but that she was following the rules, even in this chaotic time.
        What you wrote makes it seem like you don’t care about the procedures, so long as you get what you want.

      • The council was closed purely to stop the bill from coming to a vote–mind you they had been meeting regularly until days before the scheduled vote–and Herbold/Gonzales had been grasping at straws to avoid voting no on what was undoubtedly legislation with broad support.

        The charge of Sawant ‘ramming it through ‘ ie patently ridiculous. Firstly, those city council meetings were more open than ever with people able to give comment from their own homes. Secondly it was delayed and drawn out for weeks with maneuvers like moving it out of Sawant’s committee (which was successful so technically this is Morales’s bill).

        overall the OPMA excuse is the flimsiest ever and a clear example of the council preferring to do nothing than take an uncomfortable vote.

  2. It would be helpful to have some video evidence that protestors were throwing projectiles and removing barricades just prior to this recent show of force by the police. Otherwise, we only have the SPD’s word on it. If indeed this was happening, then the police action was warranted.

    • I’m responding specifically to Mr. Knudson’s comment because it is an example of an idea that many, many people express.
      Let’s say that Mr. Bob and I are protesting in a crowd. Some other person that neither of us knows or has any control over starts throwing rocks at the cops. The cops start gassing me, Mr. Bob, the rock thrower and everyone else in the crowd.
      Is the response of the police really warranted?
      How about the innocent people in the crowd who just got gassed and pelted with projectiles when they were just exercising their First Amendment rights: What response from them is warranted?

      • Yes you are responsible for what happens, you can’t have it both ways, being united and then absolving responsibility at the same time. This is why leaders are crystal clear about peaceful protests.

        Your goal is to show a contrast between the brutal vs civilized that forces public opinion on to your side. Violence, vandalism, raised clenched fists, etc. erode it, and as you’ve noted you inherit what ever the crowd does.

      • To be clear, the First Amendment prohibits the government from abridging “the right of the people PEACEABLY to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” U.S. Const. am. 1. Even if only some members of the crowd are throwing rocks etc., it seems to me that the assembly as a whole, is no longer peaceful. This could lead to a lawful order for the entire crowd to disperse, though people should be provided with a reasonable opportunity to leave the area. This sort of rule makes sense to me because in this situation it is impractical for the police to wade into the crowd to try to identify and arrest the rock-throwers, and in my opinion these individuals should not be able to throw rocks at other people (police or otherwise) with impunity, using the rest of the crowd as a sort of human shield. The First Amendment simply does not protect your right to stay in the street under these circumstances, even if you didn’t throw any rocks. (as a side note, there is actually no First Amendment right to stand in public streets, so the police would be within their rights to arrest anyone who is blocking traffic at that intersection). Of course, even though the police may be acting legally in dispersing the crowd, that does not necessarily mean it is a good idea politically speaking, given the obvious sympathy for the protesters and antipathy for the police under the current circumstances.

  3. Sr. Xavier: How can someone be responsible for something over which they have no control?
    It seems like you want me to use a godlike psychic ability to read the rock thrower’s mind and stop him before he can act.
    I assert unity with the expressly non-violent protesters and reject the philosophy and tactics of the violent ones. What else can a person do?
    Should the people who are out asking for real reform of policing tactics really be held responsible for the actions of Bugaloo Bois, who want to try to goad the government into starting Civil War 2?
    Are they unified because they are on the same street at the same time?

    • Your point of control is picking the leader you’re following, thats when you made that decision, that’s just how it is like it or not. Compare for example your leaders with Ghandi, note the dramatic attention to this issue in his style vs the current leaders of this moment.

      What can you do? Remember the point of the protest isn’t to physically do anything, it’s to change the public opinion, that’s the active ingredient. So you can agree with everything but address it many other ways. You’ll notice Amazon put a banner up on their website, the Seattle Symphony dedicated concerts to the problem this week. Encourage web sites you visit to display a banner for example. Obviously voting is key. There’s many ways you can contribute.

      • Sr. Xavier,
        I should have been more specific. I thought it was clear from context. I meant, what else can I do about the rock thrower other than reject his philosophy and actions?
        You claimed I was abdicating responsibility for his actions and I’m asking what actions >I’m< supposed to take regarding his behavior?
        As for leaders: I choose to follow the ones imploring peaceful expression, it's the rock thrower who chooses otherwise. Again, how does he become my responsiblity?

      • Well you’re committed already to a leader, go to your leadership and tell them to make it clear to the crowd that’s not ok to throw rocks. When you see someone throw a rock you go over to them and tell them to stop. Look at it this way, if you are part of a group and they’re doing something you don’t agree with and say well I didn’t do it they did, how is that different than the other officers that stood by and did nothing? That’s the core issue, and that’s the rationale we use (rightly so) to prosecute accomplices.

        Or, your leaders say you will get pelted and gases, Ghandi famously told his supporters they would take a bullet, and you commit to that being the cost. Surely a little pellet and some gas isn’t as important as the cause right?

  4. Watch the videos, see if you can spot any real threat to SPD (who are suited up head to toe in protective gear and armed with an arsenal of weapons). You can’t.

    The SPD should have never okayed the order to advance the police line

  5. Anyone know more about the 7+ car response last night around midnight at 10 Ave E and E Harrison? SPD arrested a 20- or 30-something white male (protester) seemingly without incident.

  6. Sr. ..DogPark’s response seems like a pretty thorough rebuttal to AbleDanger’s post about Sawant’s actions regarding “ramming through” the legislation. It sets a good example.

  7. Sr. Steve:
    Salient points, all. To me, the whole argument that is being made across the USA and the eotld is not that the police shouldn’t protect people and property and contain and disperse crowds that have people in them who are acting violently. The argument is that there are do many instances of excessive use of force by the police when dealing with crowds and individuals that it seems like excessive force is the default policy. Especially so, since the government officials for whom the police act as agents are willfully or negligently ineffective at changing the behavior of the police.
    Adding insult to injury is the constant chiding of the protesters for “not doing it right,” rather than addressing >why< the protesters are "doing it" at all.
    So when some people say to the protesters,"Your message is lost when you resort to violence," the only valid response is:
    Bullsh!t! Stop using that as an excuse to ignore what the protesters have to say.

  8. I think i would take these protesters more seriously if they were up in arms about how many THOUSANDS of black kids are shot and killed every year by other young black people. Where is the outrage over those killings?

  9. Why wasn’t Sawant at the protests? In the course of over a week I have not heard mention of her being at any of the gatherings? This is her district yet other city, county and state reps showed up last night. What, is it too difficult to get from her home to 11th and Pine?

    I think this shows a lot about her character. All talk and bluster until there might actually be some inconvenience to her.

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