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Another night of anti-police protest on Capitol Hill ends in ‘crowd control’ pepper bomb explosions, arrests

(Image: Matt Mitgang with permission to CHS)

Late Thursday night, the Seattle Police Department rolled into groups of protesters after demonstrators set fire to a roadblock ring of debris and trash blocking the 12th and Pine intersection in front of the department’s East Precinct. Live streams, protesters, and residents reported several arrests including at least one journalist.

Pepper bomb explosions echoed across Capitol Hill again like clockwork.

A second more aggressive volley of police crowd control explosives banged through the night beginning just after midnight as witnesses said police were responding to property damage to buildings in the area including busted windows at store and restaurant fronts near 12th and Pine. The property damage was not limited to anti-police protesters. The owner of a nearby brewery reported a police explosive’s blast heavily damaged the patio of the business as SPD pushed demonstrators north on 12th Ave and then pursued them into Cal Anderson.

SPD deployed such a volume of munitions that shrapnel could be seen littering 12th Ave after the melee as police locked down the perimeter around the precinct and at least one wholly intact bomb was found in the midst of the litter.

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Thursday’s overnight clash followed protests across Capitol Hill, Seattle, and the country Wednesday night demonstrating against injustice in the Breonna Taylor police killing, and another small clash Tuesday night following the Seattle City Council’s  vote to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s vetoes of police budget cuts.

In Wednesday’s clash, marked by the disturbing images of a cop rolling his bike over a prone demonstrator and a protester striking an officer in the helmet with a baseball bat, police and demonstrators reported 13 people were taken into custody in Seattle’s protests, mostly on Capitol Hill.

(Image: Matt Mitgang with permission to CHS)

There was no immediate tally for Thursday’s counts.

Seattle Police’s Twitter account, unlike the night before when it provided a useful play by play including announcements of dispersal demands and, eventually, the declaration of an unlawful assembly, remained silent through early Friday morning. Announcements, many unintelligible, were reported being delivered by voice and loudspeaker at street level by commanding officers. The precinct’s new public address system, added when the city constructed a large concrete wall around the facility, did not appear to be utilized.

Video streams showed what appeared to be several people taken into custody. Omari Salisbury’s Converge Media reported that one of its journalists had been arrested. Video of the arrest showed Bobby Stills identifying himself as media as he was being held down by police and cuffed before being carted away to the waiting prisoner van.

Overnight jail records show one person booked for obstruction, two for failure to disperse, and at least four people for both. Another was booked for investigation of possession of an incendiary device. Meanwhile, it was not clear from records if Stills was jailed or released without being booked.

After gathering in Cal Anderson starting around 9 PM, a group of a few hundred demonstrators began a march through the neighborhoods with police trailing the procession. As groups did the night previous, the demonstration arrived near the East Precinct. This time, some in the crowds began gathering debris and objects to build a ringed roadblock around the intersection of 12th and Pine. When the first flames appeared, the ranks of observing SPD bike officers began to build on 12th Ave before the first flash bang was thrown and the crowds of police moved in. Seattle Fire later responded down the block from the nearby Fire Station 25.

Later after the second clash after midnight cleared out most of the remaining demonstrators, a contingent of bike police continued to hold down the area in front of the East Precinct. Unlike the previous nights this week when police sirens wailed through the neighborhood, residents reported a new sound from the officers keeping watch on a dozen or so remaining protesters as bike bells chimed through the night.

(Image: Matt Mitgang with permission to CHS)

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34 thoughts on “Another night of anti-police protest on Capitol Hill ends in ‘crowd control’ pepper bomb explosions, arrests” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. Someday I’d love to have an intelligent person explain to me why demonstrators, protestors and rioters think that any of this violence will made any difference for anyone? It will not change legislation. It will not change anyone’s minds about civil issues. I simply don’t get it.

    • It changed my mind. I’m a lifelong democract and voted for Pramilla Jayapal but will never vote progressive in local elections again. I don’t want this violence in my neighborhood and can’t wait to vote out all of the officials enabling the rioters.

      • But they DO have recourse….it’s called “working within the system.” But of course that takes time and effort. Much easier to just set a few fires and rage at the police, which is just a lazy approach to change, and in fact is counterproductive.

    • There are analyses in the books “Pacifism as Pathology” and “How Nonviolence Protects the State” which argue that movements that are strictly nonviolent are less effective than those who employ a diversity of tactics.

      • Equally, violence as a misapplied tactic can re-inforce/entrench the status quo.

        Books exist on this too.

        Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, by Erica Chenoweth

      • I watched and enjoyed Erica’s Ted Talk, but as someone usually swayed by data… I have to admit I’m still not fully convinced.

        At least locally, again and again it seems we see no attention paid to or real changes come about from the peaceful marches of thousands of people, yet the “non-peaceful” events where SPD then overreacts triggers discussion and then action by city council.

        I’m not saying that those events need to be violent (and tbh I don’t remember her definition of violent protest), but it certainly seems like if you’re arguing that police overreact to incidents, it’s much easier to make your case when there’s something for them to overreact to.

    • I can see the argument that some disobedience (e.g. setting garbage fires) is necessary to provoke the police to overreact, which DOES influence our city council. But the destruction and vandalism of local businesses makes no sense to me. Heck, even the vandalism on Starbucks, Amazon, etc mainly just distracts from the cause.

    • Well, let’s see, we live in a country that for the last four years has not only been governed by minority rule but is actively and openly using every voter suppression tactic in the book to ensure that they stay in power. This same minority party has put in place a judicial system that intends to disenfranchise blacks, gays, trans people, and women and eradicate every major civil rights gain from the last sixty years, while also potentially throwing a contested election to Trump, and we have cops killing black people over and over again with no accountability. So I guess my question isn’t why are people rioting, but why aren’t more people rioting? At this point, it’s the only real power they have.

      • Well that’s a lovely excuse, but these childish tactics went on long before The TrumpHole was ever here. It’s never been effective before and it won’t be this time either. The main reason being, of course, that while the majority of people do support the message, they don’t support the destruction inflicted in a useless attempt to move the dial. So it alienates that (mostly)silent majority and loses them as allies. Which which in the long run (and short run) is counterproductive. Except to the party of The TrumpHole.

  2. SPD escalate the violence on purpose to get this type of reaction and coverage. Anything that might be considered threatening to the police is responded to by turning my neighborhood into a war zone. They are the ones with body armor, guns, and armored personel carriers. They are despicable. We should get together as a community and charge them as the racketeers they are. They are defrauding our city by exploiting and abusing the powers we have entrusted them with. I most definitely feel less safe with them on the streets, especially on nights where I cannot leave my home for fear of being tear gassed, pepper sprayed, and arrested simply for being on my own street. Revoke those powers, defund or abolish the SPD, and find something better.

    • BS – people go out an protest without having any problems with the police. I’ve participated in protests that have had zero problems with the police. There were about 175,000 of us there, there were no tear gassings, zero arrests, no rubber bullets fired and no flash bangs deployed. There were also no windows broken, no fires set and nothing thrown at the police officers. Gee interesting how that works….

      • It is a modern far left tactic to always blame other people. Don’t be surprised. Their failures in life are mommy and daddys fault, their failure to make money is the governments or corporations fault, their arrests are the polices fault.

    • Ok. You Bolsheviks do know that once you’ve defunded and abolished the police there’s nothing standing between you and the Patriots who have has enough, right?

  3. The sad fact is, no one pays attention when protests are peaceful – no real change happens. Peaceful protests happened all the time in Minneapolis, but it wasn’t until things escalated last May that the city moved to make real changes. When people are being hurt, and no one is listening, they will eventually let you know.

    • And by “real changes“ you mean a multimillion dollar unaccountable slush fund for Nikkita Oliver? No one has yet been able to explain to me how giving Nikkita Oliver and her front groups (King County Equity Now and Decriminalize Seattle) a ton of money will save stop Black people from police violence. Why are we 100% focused on transferring money from police to Nikkita Oliver? Why aren’t we talking about real reforms that have been proven to save black lives? Things like ending qualified immunity, duty to intervene, banning firing into moving vehicles etc etc?

  4. This is so unfortunate. At this point, you would think that SPD would know that these overwhelming shows of force only escalate violence. They terrify peaceful protesters into defending themselves and attract angry people looking for a fight. It’s the same pattern over and over again. The only silver lining is that the protests do seem to have exerted pressure on the City’s budget – hopefully reinvestment into the community and a reallocation of funds away from police will make future years less of a disaster than 2020.

    • You are so misguided there is no point in a thoughtful response to your comment.

      There can be a lot of improvements, but historically speaking, you live in one of the most equal, just, safe, and wealthy countries to ever exists in the history of civilization, but can do nothing but complain. Blame, shame, complain, and take no responsibility. That should be your motto.

  5. The protesters broke 100-year-old, beautiful stained glass windows at progressive, friendly, neighborly Central Lutheran Church, which has served lunch to the homeless for years and supported the original protests. So sad to see this.
    No one in government is going to pay to fix these windows. Really not seeing how this type of tactic makes any sense.

    • Agreed. This is all Bullshit and I’m sick of the violence, fires and destruction in my neighborhood. I lean about as far left as Chomsky and Davis, consider myself a social democrat and antifascist, but these terrorist tactics need to end. I’m angry as all hell too, most cops are absolutely bastards (ACAB for BIPOC), but trying to burn down a precinct with people inside is pure evil. These 100 or 200 protestors don’t represent BLM or any legitimate social justice movement. They are nihilists and dickheads fueled by protein bars, meth, social media and an oversized sense of entitlement.

    • Are you serious…. of course smacking someone in the head with a baseball bat is more serious – that can *kill* someone, even if they are wearing a bicycle helmet, a blow like that could snap a neck.

      Running over someone with a bicycle that’s being walked likely wouldn’t even hurt (ask any bicycle racer… even being run over by a ridden bicycle doesn’t usually hurt unless you happen to be hit by a pedal…) much less stand a chance of causing death…

      • I agree with you completely. If I had to choose I’d have someone roll a bike over my neck 100 times rather than get whacked by a bat. Yet I read way more handwringing comments about the bike than about the bat. Plus misinformation that cop had ridden his bike across the rioters neck (looking at you Eli). That puzzled me so thought I’d ask …

  6. OK – anyone who supports the protesters, ask yourself why….
    These “peaceful” people attacked a church, a writers collective and a ramen joint last night!?! WTF do they have to do with *anything* that is supposedly being ‘protested’ – NOTHING, it’s just satisfying certain folks need to be destructive.

    These idiots busted the windows out of Ramen Danbo and threw fireworks inside, busted the windows at their neighbor, a fitness studio, threw rocks through 100 year old stained glass windows at the Central Lutheran Church and vandalized the Hugo House…

    Yeah, this was all about Breonna Taylor and the cops forced them to do it – NOT.

  7. This comment thread is really something.

    Getting attention from City Council is not the end game. Racial justice is the end game, and we will only get there through persuasion. We need to actually change hearts and minds. Fortunately, outside of this comment thread, most movement organizers understand this.

    And by the way, the police don’t have to be forced to overreact. They do that on their own. That’s what this whole damn thing is about.

    Now go trash someone else’s neighborhood. I’m tired of hosting.

    Don’t let Seattle become the next Portland where businesses are closing left and right. Her anti-business motivations and promoting violence are threatening to ruin Seattle’s economic and once peaceful city.
    We need 10k signatures by Feb 2021 to get her out of City council and it’s gonna take a lot of work. Sign the petition to recall Sawant from her district Capitol Hill among others, donate, or just spread the word.

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