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Capitol Hill police-protester tit for tat continues with arrests, ‘man in tree’ standoff — UPDATE: Riot in Sodo

The back and forth between police and groups of protesters who say they are fighting for the homeless community around Cal Anderson Park has sparked a series of conflicts, property damage, and arrests this weekend in the Broadway and Pike/Pine core of Capitol Hill.’

The Cal Anderson Shelterhouse facility near the 11th and E Olive entrance to the park continues to be a center of conflict after Seattle Police swept in Friday morning and — temporarily — cleared the area of activists and campers who say they are taking over the building used for rentals and community meetings to provide services to people living in the park.

The groups of protesters and activists have been significantly smaller than the massive rallies and marches seen during the CHOP occupied camp for Black Lives Matter causes. The new actions have also brought more property damage and vandalism to the area as the groups have continued to focus on large banks, Amazon and Starbucks-related properties, and other targeted businesses in nightly marches and actions.

Many of the targets are hit repeatedly. Early Saturday morning, someone again tried to damage the E Olive Way Starbucks in an arson attempt.

The new, “direct action” efforts of groups in recent weeks has also come with a different approach to media and social media. Groups have continued to be hostile to press coverage and mostly discourage live video and photography during the marches and actions.

The weeks have also brought increased reliance on protest tactics including the use of a small fleet of blocking vehicles used to protect marchers as they block traffic and fill the lanes on streets like Broadway or E Pine. Protesters also used cars to block earlier this summer during the nightly protests to shut down I-5. The car brigade has increasingly become part of the protests on city streets where groups had been using large groups of bicyclists.

The groups rallying around Cal Anderson have also organized their marches for causes beyond homelessness with calls for action against police brutality and against the Seattle Police Officer Guild.

The police response has so far been on a much smaller scale than during CHOP, mostly without the presence of heavily armored riot cops attempting to stand ground around the East Precinct. Car brigades have been one target of opportunity for police with multiple vehicles involves with the protests impounded over the weekend including one Tesla advertising “free rides for protesters.”

Police have also been aided by the increasingly mobile presence of private armed security. Hired by building owners and property managers in the area around Cal Anderson, the private security teams have begun following the protest groups that have become more difficult to track with fewer livestreams and social media updates.

The police response to crowd control has continued to be aggressive. Friday night, SPD reported three arrests after the small group marching around Broadway left a trail of property damage and graffiti:

At approximately 10:20 PM, the group, many of them carrying shields and wearing gas masks, helmets and body armor, began marching north on Broadway from Cal Anderson Park. Vehicles associated with the crowd moved between the group and responding police vehicles in an attempt to block the officers from accessing those committing the property destruction. A number of businesses along Broadway were damaged during the march. Officers did make three arrests, and those individuals were later booked into the King County Jail.

Saturday afternoon, a clash between police and protesters near the Shelterhouse brought a massive Seattle Fire response after reports of an officer injured with a pipe. Police later reported via East Precinct radio that there were no serious injuries and that a possible suspect was in custody following a report of property damage at 11th and Olive.

The back and forth and small skirmishes continued into the night around the edges of Cal Anderson where the lights were turned off by the city but small groups of protesters and park-goers continued to use the space.

Around midnight, SPD cordoned off the area around the East Precinct in a scene reminiscent of CHOP days as officers cleared the intersection of 12th and Pine. This time, the police tape and blockade wasn’t a barrier to try to make a stand against marching protesters.

Around 11:30 PM, a protester climbed onto the fencing erected outside the building in the days following CHOP and clambered into one of the 30-foot-trees in front of the precinct headquarters.

The protester — also the suspect in the assault on an officer earlier in the day in Cal Anderson — was ordered to come down. Seattle Fire was called for a possible rescue. 12th and Pine was closed to traffic and a new Seattle “man in tree” standoff followed. At one point, the male tree climbing suspect reportedly assaulted an officer with a branch. Police and a group of a dozen or so protesters were reported on the scene for a few hours before the tape was finally taken down and the intersection reopened. It’s unclear if the protester ever came down. There were no reported arrests.

UPDATE 8/17/20 7:55 AM: A major clash between police and protesters targeting the police union headquarters flared overnight as SPD declared the scene a riot and deployed aggressive crowd control tactics.

SPD reports 18 were arrested.

Police report the demonstration escalated around 10 PM after a large firework was set off:

Shortly after 10:00 PM, someone in the crowd set off a large explosive and attempted to break out a police vehicle window. The incident commander issued an order to disperse to the crowd at that time. Individuals in the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles at officers. Multiple explosives were thrown toward officers. Officers moved the crowd northbound on 4th Avenue South. Several officers were struck by explosives and injured. Additional police resources were called for to respond to 4th Avenue South. Seattle Fire Department responded to treat the injured officers. The incident commander declared the incident a riot. Officers used OC spray and blast balls to the stop the assault on officers. The crowd moved northbound, eventually dispersing.

SPD says one officer required hospitalization.

Meanwhile, a reported stabbing on Broadway just after midnight brought a large police response to Dick’s Drive-in. Officers arrived to find one person suffering from being pepper sprayed but no stabbing victim at the scene. One person was taken into custody in the assault.


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39 thoughts on “Capitol Hill police-protester tit for tat continues with arrests, ‘man in tree’ standoff — UPDATE: Riot in Sodo

  1. Every day the protesters damage more private property, they lose the plot further on how they’re helping Black Lives to Matter.

    Just making the case we still need police. Loud and clear.

    • Never had anything to do with racial equality. For the last four or five years, Amazon was the source all social ills, now the City Council has glommed onto the idea the police is the new and improved source of all our social ills. This is called recreational activism, these people have no strong conviction one way or another. Just a desire to holler and be the center of attention.

      • Who are you to explain the actions of hundreds of people? You have no idea what motivates them. And judging by your willingness to presume, you don’t really care. Pls stick to your day job.

      • We only wish these “protesters” had day jobs. Then they might actually be doing something useful instead of fighting ghosts.

  2. Anyone from the original and more effective protests telling these leftover protesters they’re no longer accomplishing anything except for continuous Fox News fodder?
    Go home, get some rest, take your meds.
    Or how about we put policing via social worker to test and send some out there.

  3. Another day of Homeless Burning man. The fist job I got after high school was a gas station attendant at the Texaco station on Montlake and 520. Since turned into Union 76 and now razed. I learned one of the better lessons in life: if I kept the bathroom clean, it stayed clean. The moment the bathroom got a little sideways, people would defecate on the floor and pee on the toilet paper resulting in a lot more work for me.

    Imagine if the City of Seattle had the dignity to roll out the unwelcome wagon when first tent popped up in Ravena park in 2011 instead of the heroin gravy train. Now we are at a point where the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into social services is not enough.

    • Good life lesson, but not a good analogy. Urban campers are driven by a genuine need stemming from a societal failure to provide enough accessible housing for everyone. They’re not doing it for fun, or because it irritates the neighbors. Trashing a gas station restroom is just morons being morons.

  4. Never had anything to do with racial equality. For the last four or five years, Amazon was the source all social ills, now the City Council has glommed onto the idea the police is the new and improved source of all our social ills. This is called recreational activism, these people have no strong conviction one way or another. Just a desire to holler and be the center of attention.

  5. It’s a bit of a stretch IMO to call the person that climbed the tree a “protester”. He’s a (well-known) person experiencing homelessness and mental illness that happens to hang out and be supported by protesters around Cal Anderson. He also likes to climb other trees frequently; this one was only notable since it’s next to the East Precinct.

  6. I’m getting perilously close to not caring what the cops do to these LARPers. It’s been months since it’s felt safe on Capitol Hill and it would be nice to have the neighborhood back.

    • True. But we need to use the same loud voices in condemning “property-damaging misguided protesters” as we do with violent cops with unchecked power. Without us all calling it out/calling on the violence to end (whether cop or “protester”) then we tacitly nod to its acceptance.

      • mmm i don’t know if property damage warrants the same volume as the loss of black lives… like yeah i’m not sure the property damage is helping the overall movement right now, but i’d take corporate buildings needing to do repairs over black bodies in the street.

      • It truly is in the best interest of BLM to denounce the violence as it detracts from their cause. The fact that BLM leaders hesitate to denounce violence makes it appear that they are okay with the perpetuation of violence. Two wrongs do not make a right. There is no moral superiority in condoning violence.

      • @hb

        I disagree. True, corporate buildings are nowhere near the level of importance or what we lose when a black life is taken. But my comment is about the message we send when we aren’t clear that we support black lives but not violent protests.

        While using a normal voice or a sotto voce to condemn the anarchists you actually de-amplify the voice of the Black Lives Matter message. You make it seem as though the movement, in the search for racial justice, supports the anarchist’s actions. This then feeds into the narrative from Trump, and his alt-right base, that BLM supports anarchy and, as such, are terrorists. Let’s not give them that fodder for their cannons.

        This is why leaders from black-led organizations have pleaded for the protesters to be peaceful; because the anarchist’s violent actions take away from the message the black community needs for people to hear. We can speak to both messages at the same time, at the same volume, in the effort to further racial justice demands. We, as a people, are capable of multi-tasking in this way.

  7. “The new, “direct action” efforts of groups in recent weeks has also come with a different approach to media and social media. Groups have continued to be hostile to press coverage and mostly discourage live video and photography during the marches and actions.”

    This speaks for itself. Obviously, the vandals (NOT “protesters”) have something to hide. They don’t want any video evidence of their illegal actions.

    • I think we need to stop calling these groups protesters (even in quotation marks) and start labeling them what they are: agitators/anarchists/criminals (take your pick). These aren’t groups that want to change the system, they want it all (not just the police, the government and capitalist society) to be brought down and are doing so by hiding behind innocent people (peaceful protesters, the homeless).

      They look to further their agenda by controlling the narrative while visiting violence upon anyone filming their actions that aren’t part of their own group. Because if you show the full truth, the people will realize that these agitators are the ones out looking for a fight. Taunting the police in the hopes that they’ll use riot dispersal tactics; then the agitators start filming to show the violence the police perpetrate. All while claiming to have done nothing wrong; to have been peacefully helping a cause.

      • Awesome, Nathan! Then own up to being anarchists and proclaim it in your “direct actions” instead of claiming to be peaceful protesters; only to run and cry to the press and ACLU when the police push back on your criminal activities.

        Instead of being cowards, hiding behind peaceful protesters as human shields, step to the front of the protests and confront the cops head on (that way they know who to arrest when the rocks and mortar shells start being thrown). Stop putting innocent people in harms way while you live out your LARP fantasies of being revolutionaries.

  8. Sometimes the rioters demand the video streamers turn their cameras away, but most of the streamers turn their cameras away willingly. Why should these streamers get press protection if they’re really just propagandists/partisans for the violent mob? Same with the “legal observers”. If they are knowingly witnessing crimes, then they shouldn’t get immunity from the police either.

      • Smart move, except you’re hurting so many non-wealthy people in the process and distracting from BLM. Oh, and you are also increasing the odds that Trump will win reelection by turning moderate voters against what is perceived as Democratic weakness in the face of marauding groups who seem intent on tearing down our economic and political systems. It’s that old “every action breeds a reaction” thing. And you are committing these acts in the same neighborhood over and over again, breeding fatigue for your movement even among those who might be sympathetic. Other than these issues, smart move.

      • ” we will keep smashing their windows.”

        Well, until you do it to the wrong person and get shot, big boy or get a record. the you won;’t even be able to get a shop as a barista.

        But keep being wuss, wear a mask and do some smashy-smash at 2am on hipster Cap Hill. I’ll stay happily North of the Ship Canal and stop spending money at businesses on Cap Hill.

        mmmmkay?

      • Repeatedly destroying a community under the guise of caring about others. Interesting. Why don’t y’all go smash up Amazon corporate or go piss off Jeff at his house?

  9. I’m fine with the shelter house being a food not bombs kitchen, I would like the direct action folks to leave the neighborhood and let a better neighborhood coalition form around supporting the needs of the homeless folks on the hill.

    This group has only one focus: to stop the police. The police have no interest in hassling homeless folks and they say their leadership has told them they can’t do anything to evict the homeless from the park. The only agitators are the direct action folks. They need to leave and let the adults in.

  10. Anyone see the Portland video from last night of the man that was almost killed? Apparently, he’s still in the hospital. Is this what we want?

    https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2020/08/driver-of-crashed-car-is-beaten-blocks-from-downtown-portland-protests.html

    What exactly is the plan of the so-called “direct action crew” members – escalate and escalate until people start getting killed? That seems to be the plan to me. Keep getting more and more violent. Societal anarchy, however, will not be brought on. Instead, we will eventually get to the point where enough ordinary people have had enough and there will be a crackdown. We’ve been through these cycles before in this country.

    Some of the younger “direct action people” are going to really regret their actions a few years from now when they can’t get a good job – or any job – because they’re saddled with an arrest record. (And after Trump is re-elected because, in part, these images are scaring people and Democrat leaders aren’t speaking out against looting and violence. Check out the latest CNN poll. Good job!)

  11. I just spoke with a small shop owner and friend on Capitol Hill, and he is now so angry and hurt by the chaos and violence that has kept his shop closed a lot of the time and hurt his whole family that he is conflating protesters, looters, and people without homes. This is not good. If parts of Seattle destroy themselves and all their businesses, it will not really help anyone, the destruction could leave long-lasting scars, and the police will have more support for more repressive tactics going forward.

    If there is leadership among the BLM and supporters, don’t they need to take charge, even with the help of decent police people, and refocus on the message?

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