Mayor urges compassion, kindness to make Seattle whole again

May 29, 2020, 4:05 PM | Updated: May 31, 2020, 9:39 am
Debris remains after Saturday's riot in Seattle. (KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)
(KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)

“It looks like a war zone,” said KIRO Radio reporter Hanna Scott.

After four hours of peaceful demonstrations, chaos broke out in downtown Seattle. Molotov cocktails were thrown at cars, which caught on fire. Rocks were thrown at police officers. Fireworks were thrown into crowds. Businesses were broken into and looted.

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“It’s an incredibly sad day for our city,” Jon Scholes, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, told KIRO Radio.

Scholes said the messages from the prior, peaceful demonstrations were hijacked by a number of cowards that came downtown Saturday evening.

“They’re showing no courage around the real issues that the killing of George Floyd highlights in our country,” Scholes said.

Around 4:15 p.m., people began setting fires and breaking windows. KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis reported hearing the sound of explosions downtown. Reporter Hanna Scott witnessed looting of several stores in the downtown core.

Many marchers moved onto I-5, bringing traffic to a halt. I-5 was closed from the 520 bridge to the I-190 bridge for hours. The highway finally reopened around midnight. Several city streets were closed and Metro bus service was rerouted. Washington State Ferries canceled its Seattle-Bremerton run in response to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s imposed curfew.

Gov. Inslee activated up to 200 members of the Washington National Guard to help protect against property damage and manage crowds. Guard personnel, which was spotted downtown around 6pm, will be unarmed.

Mayor Durkan issued a 5 p.m. curfew in response to the protests for 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. An emergency alert was sent out from the city of Seattle asking all residents to disperse from downtown in accordance with the 5 p.m. curfew. Residents were asked to shelter in place. No weapons are allowed in city streets, including rocks, sticks, pipes, and clubs.

“Today, many across Seattle came together to grieve, to protest, and to commit themselves to the cause of justice,” Mayor Durkan said in a Saturday evening news conference. “They did so peacefully, for noble values, using a cherished American right … unfortunately, in the late afternoon, demonstrations downtown by others quickly turned violent and destructive.”

Durkan said there have been several arrests and several injuries among civilians. Seattle Police are also reporting several injuries among officers, none of which are reportedly serious.

The mayor said that two rifles were stolen from SPD patrol cars that were set on fire. SPD tweeted hours later that both weapons were recovered. Originally, SPD had believed the weapons had not been fired, but video proved otherwise. Thanks to the quick work of a Q13 FOX Seattle security guard, the rioter was quickly disarmed.

Durkan issued three emergency orders:

  • A proclamation of civil emergency in Seattle
  • An order prohibiting the use of weapons
  • An order establishing a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew Saturday and Sunday

“Those who do not follow the order, enforcement action can be taken,” Durkan said.

Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said he supports the rights of people to exercise free speech and peaceful protest, “but this is not the way to do it.”

Scoggins delivered a message to rioters:

“You may be hurt, those protesting may be hurt,” he said. “When you block streets, you block routes for EMS vehicles … you’re blocking access routes.”

Scoggins tried to reassure residents in Seattle that his firefighters are doing everything they can to try to help and protect people. He’s requested assistance from regional fire districts. King County Paramedics say they’re staged and ready to respond.

“We’re all in this together,” Scoggins said. “We’re going to get through this together.”

“When you get up tomorrow, I want you to be thinking about how do you keep yourself safe and your neighbors safe,” Durkan said. “We’re still in the middle of a pandemic, it’s a very dangerous thing still for the city of Seattle. So please be kind to somebody and compassionate, and do your part to make our city whole again.”

Durkan said the people causing chaos, destruction, and looting stores does nothing to honor Mr. Floyd.

The latest updates from KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott and Mike Lewis, reporting from the scene in downtown Seattle:

Gov. Inslee released a statement before the protests:

“As people gather today to protest the unjust death of George Floyd, I hope they do so peacefully and safely. Everyone has the freedom – and the right – to demonstrate and speak their mind. However, violence and destruction have no place in Washington state or our country.

“Together, we grieve for the death of George Floyd, and many, many others. The events in Minnesota and across the nation the past few nights have been stunning and illustrate how inequity causes people to lose faith in their public institutions.

“The trauma inflicted on generations of people of color must be acknowledged, and more must be done to correct it. Feeling second-class in one’s own community does not make people feel safe. Insecurity hardens into anger.

“I fully support the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. I applaud every Washingtonian standing for what they believe in, but we must do so in a way that allows space for these important and necessary discussions, not in a way that inspires fear.

“If you choose to protest today, please be safe and peaceful. These are important issues that deserve our full attention, without distraction from violence and destruction. Without solutions to inequity, the long road to justice will run even longer.”

Mayor Jenny Durkan released a statement on Friday. In part:

“The family of George Floyd is suffering deeply. The officers that encountered George Floyd disregarded his humanity, which ultimately lead to his death.”

“The video of his last words echoes through and is magnified by the dark history of our country — from slavery to today. The brutal way in which Mr. Floyd was treated reflected the deep and systemic impacts of racism in our country, particularly against Black Americans.”

“It is right that the officer who killed Mr. Floyd was charged and will be prosecuted. Those standing by, and failing to stop the actions should also bear responsibility. In addition, I believe this should lead to an investigation by the US Department of Justice.”

Durkan reminded protesters to be safe on Saturday:

“Today, hundreds of CityofSeattle residents are coming together to express their grief, anger and despair at the tragic killing of George Floyd. I urge everyone who is marching today in protest to do so safely and peacefully as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The City of Seattle handed out single use masks for protesters.

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Mayor urges compassion, kindness to make Seattle whole again