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More protest on Capitol Hill following Saturday ‘riot’ — UPDATE

UPDATE 8:51 PM: After hours of back and forth around the East Precinct on the night of the hottest day so far this year in Seattle, demonstrators rallied at Broadway and Pine with dozens of protesters and makeshift plywood shields when organizers began urging the crowds to head home. Not all left the area but the crowd thinned considerably as large groups of police and bike officers waited nearby.

ORIGINAL REPORT: A day after a massive protest march turned riot on Capitol Hill in which 47 people were arrested and the Seattle Police Department says 59 of its officers were hurt with injuries including “abrasions and bruising to burns and a torn meniscus,” a smaller crowd of demonstrators again formed Sunday evening on the Seattle Central lawn to make plans for another night of calls for Black Lives Matter causes including cutting the city’s police budget in half. There is, of course, no official count of how many protesters were injured Saturday.

Earlier Sunday, SPD moved early on protest organizers who had planned a rally and march against the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement wing of the Department of Homeland Security by making arrests and removing several support vehicles from downtown’s Westlake plaza. Meanwhile, signs went up at Capitol Hill’s Cal Anderson announcing the park’s closure. City parks department officials have not returned our calls for explanation of the closure. That didn’t stop another crowd of protesters from gathering there Sunday night.

Early reports had the crowds leaving their gathering places and hitting the streets around 6:45 PM.


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Saturday’s chaos (Images: Tom Walsh @twalsh875 with permission to CHS)

A construction trailer burns at 12th and Spruce (Image: Noah Lubin)

On Saturday, a march in solidarity with protests in Portland of thousands started much earlier in the day with crowds circling the East Precinct and marching down 12th Ave near the youth justice facility and construction site where multiple portable office buildings were set on fire. Nearby, windows were broken at the 12th Ave and Columbia Starbucks, as well as the Rhein Haus and Canon bars where an assault was also reported.

Returning to the East Precinct, police say a large explosive caused damage to the SPD building as protesters scaled the protective fence put in place following CHOP. Within minutes, a hail of blast balls and pepper spray rained down as SPD command declared the situation a riot. The back and forth between protesters and police around the precinct that followed lasted until past midnight with police making periodic aggressive pushes firing pepper ball paintballs and tossing the flash grenades to clear crowds far from the precinct including all the way to the northern reaches of Harvard Ave.

Sunday’s quick action by SPD to apparently shut down downtown protest activity follows Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Friday call for protester and police restraint after a Homeland Security task force was dispatched to her city on “standby” mode in what the Trump administration has said is a move necessary to protect federal facilities.

So far, SPD has been aided by the Washington State Patrol and King County Sheriff in cracking down on the protests on Capitol Hill while private security teams like Iconic Global have also been active in the area — but there have been no signs, yet, of the federal task force.


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