Police say ‘riot’ broke out in Seattle after hours of peaceful protests

Jun 1, 2020, 8:27 AM | Updated: Jun 2, 2020, 12:01 pm
Seattle, Capitol Hill protest, riot...
Police and protesters clash on Seattle's Capitol Hill. (KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)
(KIRO Radio, Hanna Scott)

Seattle police declared a riot at its East Precinct around 9 p.m. Monday, after hours of peaceful protests moved through downtown and the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Around 9 p.m., KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott reported that protesters were told they were breaking curfew, and had 10 minutes to disperse.

At 9:30 p.m., SPD announced on Twitter that the incident commander had declared the protest a riot, claiming the “crowd had thrown rocks, bottles and fireworks at officers,” and was “attempting to breach barricades one block from the East Precinct.”

Video taken directly above the scene show the crowd up against the rail on 11th Avenue in Capitol Hill around that time, before a police officer grabs the umbrella of a protester. The protester attempts to pull their umbrella back, before pepper spray, a series of flash bangs, and tear gas floods the street.

Footage on the ground paints a similar picture.

From there, the crowd headed to Westlake, moving downtown in scattered groups.

Close to 10 p.m., the National Guard joined the police at 4th and Pike, with the crowd thinned to around 200 people. Roughly an hour later, protesters began to disperse, vowing to gather in Seattle again at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Across the lake in Bellevue, it was a much more peaceful scene than Sunday night. The city of Kirkland warned business owners of potential looting. Some hired private security, but the evening was reportedly quiet.

There were peaceful protests in Bothell, Tacoma, Olympia, and Renton, but scenes from downtown Bellevue and Seattle over the weekend prompted small businesses and malls alike to take precautions against potential looting. Several Target stores closed early, police vehicles blocked roadways around Alderwood Mall, and police officers were stationed around U-Village in Seattle.

Follow our live updates from Monday: 

11:11 pm – At least six cities across the Puget Sound — Seattle, Bellevue, Mercer Island, Redmond, Lynnwood, and Tukwila — are under curfew tonight. The City of Kirkland is urging businesses to remain closed on Tuesday.

11:00pm – Crowds in Seattle are beginning to disperse near the East Precinct on Capitol Hill, the same location where police declared a riot about two hours earlier.

10:54pm – The National Guard has reportedly begun staging at Westlake Park were protesters are.

10:47pm – KIRO 7’s Gary Horcher reports it’s been relatively quiet in Kirkland on Monday, despite early reports that looting was expected. Horcher says several businesses appear to have hired private security.

10:27pm – WSDOT Tacoma reports police activity is causing backups on SR 16 in both directions at milepost 0.41 near S Sprague Ave. All ramps closed all lanes closed in EB lanes to I-5. It’s not clear if this is part of a protest, but there are several people on the highway.

10:13pm – The National Guard is assisting in downtown Seattle.

10:01pm – Groups of protesters are moving from Capitol Hill to Westlake Park.

9:33pm – Reports of flash bangs and tear gas near the East Precinct on Capitol Hill. Also reports of protesters throwing rocks and fireworks at police.

9:21pm – Protesters are clashing with police on Capitol Hill. Several flash bangs have gone off.

8:54pm – The Washington State Patrol has stepped in to assist Seattle police in downtown Seattle.

8:25pm – I-5 is closed again through downtown Seattle

8:08pm – After closing as a precaution prior to Monday’s protests, I-5 has reopened through downtown Seattle, reports KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan.

Washington State Patrol warns that there’s a chance it may close again later tonight “depending on the direction of the march.”

8:01pm – Rally organizers tell KOMO reporter Jonathan Choe that they want Mayor Jenny Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee to meet them at the barricades outside the East Precinct “to discuss police reform.”

7:54pm – Marchers continue to call on police to kneel. East Precinct Captain Brian Grenon and Lt. Paul Leung both are spotted doing so at the barrier with protesters.

7:39pm – Protesters are calling on police to kneel with them and remove their riot gear. Officers have given no response as of yet.

7:31pmHeidi Groover with The Seattle Times reports that protesters are a block away from East Precinct on 11th Avenue in Capitol Hill, where barriers have been set up by police.

“Crowd stretches back at least a block,” Groover described. “Calm and quiet at the front.”

7:28pm – As protesters approach Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, organizers are asking that white participants move to the front of the crowd.

7:16pm – Protesters are now stopped outside Seattle Central Community College.

7:07pm – The protest continues on in downtown Seattle, as the majority of marchers have made it to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

6:52pm – Tacoma Link light rail service has temporarily been suspended “due to road closures and civic events.”

6:47pm – Gov. Inslee released a statement in response to President Trump’s threat to deploy military to cities in response to the protests.

“Our country is defined by our collective character and democratic ideals, not by reactionary calls for division and not by threatening Americans with their own military,” Inslee’s statement reads in part. View the governor’s full statement here.

6:40pm – Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus extended the state of emergency for the city of Auburn through June 6. As part of the declaration, there is a city curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. each evening, ending in the morning on Saturday, June 6. Residents are asked to stay home other than for work or emergencies.

6:32pm – The march continues toward Capitol Hill from downtown Seattle, heading to the SPD East Precinct in Capitol Hill. There are reports of barricades being set up at the precinct.

6:10pm – On Monday, President Trump threatened to deploy the United States military to American cities to quell a rise of violent protests, but Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan says that’s unconstitutional and illegal. Read more.

6:01pm – Seattle’s curfew is now in effect for the night, but that apparently hasn’t slowed the majority of protesters down in the city.

5:46pm – Lynnwood police say there are large groups of people trying to get onto Alderwood Mall property. This is not typical foot traffic.

5:35pm – Protesters in Seattle are near Fourth and Spring. Also hearing of a massive protest in Tacoma.

5:17pm – Protesters in Seattle are on the move again, away from City Hall.

5:08pm – Looting underway around University Village in Seattle. Seattle police deployed several officers to the area.

5:01pm – Washington State Ferries says it will maintain service in and out of Seattle on Monday. WSF recommends limiting non-essential travel into the city after the 5:35 p.m. boat out of Bainbridge and the 4:15 p.m. Bremerton departure. Seattle is under a 6 p.m. curfew.

4:55pm – Hundreds of protesters in front of Seattle’s City Hall.

4:46pm – Protesters on the move in downtown Seattle. KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott is following.

4:38pm – King County Metro buses are not serving downtown Seattle. “Be safe,” Metro tweeted.

4:26pm – The Office of Police Accountability said it received over 12,000 complaints about Seattle police response to demonstrations over the weekend. The office says it’s trying to move quickly and thoroughly review and process the complaints. Read more.

4:22pm – Bothell police are out in the community with protesters.

4:04pm – Redmond Mayor Angela Birney has issued a proclamation of Civil Emergency and has imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. and continuing until terminated.

3:54pm – Demonstrations are underway in downtown Seattle, Olympia, and Renton, among other cities.

3:44pm – Hundreds of people are gathering in Westlake Park before a peaceful protest and march. KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott reports that National Guard members are stationed outside nearby businesses.

3:25pm – Gov. Inslee provided an update on the statewide demonstrations Monday. He spoke to the importance of speaking out and being allowed to peacefully protest as a First Amendment right, recognizing that “people are reasonably and justifiably outraged” following the unjust death of George Floyd.

“Violence and destruction has no place in this,” Inslee added. “It is not productive and it is not constitutionally protected.”

“We just can’t allow violence to hijack peaceful protest,” he said.

3:07pm – Tukwila imposes 8 p.m. curfew.

2:43pm – The Seattle Fire Department reports it responded to 32 demonstration-related incidents on Saturday and 22 on Sunday. That included eight vehicle fires downtown on Saturday.

2:16pm – Seattle Mayor Durkan has imposed a curfew for 6pm until 5am Tuesday. Police Chief Carmen Best said we remain in a state of emergency.

“I implore people to have calm, to express themselves as they should in a free and democratic society without violence, without property damage,” Chief Best said.

“Trust between law enforcement and community is essential,” Durkan said. “It  can be lost by the actions of just one officer. And if we didn’t know that, we have seen that so starkly in the last four days as cities across this nation are wracked in what we are seeing because of the actions of four officers in Minneapolis.”

1:33pm – Former NFL player and current Seahawks radio pregame and postgame analyst Ray Roberts joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Monday morning to share his thoughts on racial inequality and the ongoing protests in the country. Read more.

1:03pm – Seattle police on Saturday arrested 57 people, mostly for burglary and assault. The police department released an initial timeline of events in an effort to offer full transparency to the public. Read more.

12:41pm – Seattle councilmembers levied criticism against police officers at weekend protests downtown, citing reports of excessive force and inappropriately-used dispersal tactics. Read more. 

11:15am – The City of Kirkland is advising all businesses to close by 1 p.m. Monday, “due to risk of looting.”

Residents and business owners are also being asked to avoid the city’s downtown area, as well as “any other commercial shopping area” starting at that same time.

“We are receiving reports that Kirkland is a possible target for looting and destruction,” City Manager Kurt Triplett said in written statement. “Out of an abundance of caution we’re encouraging these precautionary measures to help prevent any criminal activity that could cause further damage to our local businesses and community.”

9:54am – Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez opened Monday morning’s briefing offering remarks on the weekend’s protests.

“Unity doesn’t mean we deny frustration or ignore realities of pain and grief,” she stated. “We call on each other as leaders and members of our community to stand together to help our community grieve and chart forward a path of healing and understanding.”

7:11am – At least 30 armed community members are standing guard outside Pistol Annie’s Pawn Shop in Bonney Lake. The shop’s owner, Melissa Denny, says that police told her there was credible information her shop could be targeted by protesters looking for guns and ammunition. Read more

6:20am – Some restrictions in downtown Seattle “exclusion zones” cordoned off last night during protests are now easing. KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan is reporting that cars are being allowed back on 4th Avenue, as well as other streets.

Most roads are back open in Bellevue, according to KIRO Radio traffic reporter Tracy Taylor.

5:54am – Cleanup efforts are now underway in Seattle and Bellevue.

4:07am – Parts of downtown Seattle, Bellevue, and other cities around the region have been cordoned off to allow for cleanup efforts with protesters no longer out. Protesters in Olympia reportedly dispersed close to 1 a.m.

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Police say ‘riot’ broke out in Seattle after hours of peaceful protests