Crowds protesting the death of George Floyd broke windows on numerous businesses and clashed with police during a demonstration that began Friday evening and stretched into early Saturday morning in downtown Seattle.
Police reported making several arrests as the demonstrators wound through downtown streets, smashing windows and hurling debris and fireworks at officers. No serious injuries were reported.
The demonstration began around 7 p.m. at Hing Hay Park in Seattle’s Chinatown International District with protesters speaking out against police brutality in the first of several planned demonstrations this weekend, all sparked by the death of George Floyd during his arrest in Minneapolis.
The group then started marching toward downtown Seattle, chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd,” who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes during an arrest Monday.
Protesters started throwing fireworks, while Seattle police used pepper spray and flash bang devices to disperse the crowds. Officers also blocked off several streets, including Fifth Avenue and Madison Street.
By 11 p.m., much of the crowd had dissipated or broken off into smaller groups. A group of about 50 stood at South Main Street and Fifth Avenue South, milling around, while several dozen officers stood nearby.
Some protesters chanted, “I can’t breathe.”
During the next hour and a half, the group moved slowly through downtown, occasionally stopping. Police in riot gear closely followed.
Seattle police spokesman Patrick Michaud confirmed there were at least three arrests during the night, but he said he was getting conflicting numbers.
“(The crowd) continues to ebb and flow,” he said.
Around midnight, even with the group’s numbers far smaller than earlier in the evening, windows were broken on storefronts near Fifth Avenue South and South Jackson Street. Damaged businesses included a Bank of America branch, a dim sum restaurant and an insurance office.
“The holdouts are getting a bit more aggressive as the night wears on,” Michaud said.
The protesters dwindled to a handful just before 1 a.m. Saturday.
The Seattle Fire Department on Friday night advised all downtown business owners to “immediately secure all open areas,” including outdoor seating areas, garages, dumpsters and recycling bins, and remove all combustibles that can’t be secured.
The protest was one of several in the U.S. that turned violent Friday as people took to the street to protest the death of Floyd.
Protesters smashed windows at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, set a police car on fire and struck officers with bottles. Large demonstrations in New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., Portland and other cities ranged from people peacefully blocking roads to clashing with police.
Floyd, who was black, died Monday after he had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a store.
Officer Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. He also was accused of ignoring another officer who expressed concerns about Floyd as he lay handcuffed on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe as Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes.
Chauvin, who was fired along with three other officers who were at the scene, faces more than 12 years in prison if convicted of murder.
The first, organized by a group called Justice For George Floyd, will be held at noon at the Seattle Police Department headquarters at 610 Fifth Ave., according to the group’s Facebook page.
The second, led by Not This Time!, a nonprofit committed to reducing fatal police shootings and creating safer communities, is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. at Westlake Center, 400 Pine St., with speakers, including community and youth leaders, pastors and politicians. The group will then walk to the U.S. District Court building at 700 Stewart St., where there will be another round of speakers, music and poetry.
Earlier Friday, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best had said they were outraged by Floyd’s death and also called for protesters to be peaceful.
Information from The Associated Press is included in this story.