As protesters returned to downtown Seattle and Capitol Hill on Sunday afternoon — seemingly the largest presence in at least several days — two people were arrested and some in the crowd vandalized buildings.
SPD said one officer was taken to the hospital with burns to his neck when someone threw fireworks at police outside the department’s West Precinct, and other officers had cuts and abrasions. Police used blast balls and pepper spray “to stop the assault on officers,” according to a news release.
Police said in a blotter post that there were essentially two groups of demonstrators, peaceful ones who had gathered at Westlake Park around 10:30 a.m. and a group who joined about three hours later.
Police said “individuals within this group appeared to be very organized and this appeared to be a very concerted effort at property damage of certain businesses and government facilities.”
Graffiti, broken windows and other vandalism was reported at buildings including Seattle police headquarters, Seattle Municipal Court and the East Precinct. Social media and live stream videos showed damage at a Starbucks and an Amazon Go store.
At the West Precinct, police said “an unknown person or persons threw multiple large mortar-type fireworks at officers from a close range,” injuring officers.
At the East Precinct, police said a firework was thrown into the lobby and caused a small fire, which was quickly extinguished.
As they marched, protesters shouted “No Justice! No Peace” and called for defunding of the SPD.
The protesters made their way to Cal Anderson Park, where the group eventually broke up.
At one point, a phalanx of police vehicles could be seen on social media and traffic cameras gathered near Ninth Avenue and Pike Street, close to the department’s East Precinct.
The East Precinct was the site of several nights of often violent confrontations between police and protesters last month, resulting in the department abandoning the precinct building, which became the epicenter for the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” or CHOP.
CHOP became a police-free zone for several weeks where Black Lives Matter protesters and others gathered until a string of violent crimes, including a pair of homicides, resulted in the city moving to take it back.
Protests of varying sizes have taken place almost every night in Seattle since the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking national outrage over systemic racism, police brutality and violence against people of color.
Another march took place in Wallingford on Sunday afternoon, calling for defunding the police.
The Seattle Police Department, which is already under federal oversight over a history of using excessive force, has been sharply criticized by civil libertarians and members of city government for its violent tactics, including the use of tear gas and pepper spray against otherwise mostly peaceful protesters. A call has gone out to defund the department by as much as 50%.
The city council — and a federal judge — have barred SPD from using tear gas, blast balls and other crowd control weapons against peaceful protesters, though the council’s ordinance is not scheduled to take effect until later this month.