President Joe Biden’s inauguration was met Wednesday evening in downtown Seattle with protest and scattered property damage from anti-fascist marchers who have demonstrated for months.
A group, which numbered about 100 protesters early in the evening and later dropped in size, marched through downtown and called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In chants, they decried both former president Donald Trump and Biden.
Police made at least three arrests as of 9 p.m., for property damage, burglary and an assault, according to Seattle police.
Outside ICE offices on Second Avenue and Spring Street, several in the crowd lit fire to an American flag. Some spray-painted and smashed three windows at a building that houses an AmazonGo store. “Amazon uses $ 2 fund tech for ICE,” read one tag.
As the group gathered at Occidental Square, one protester said watching Biden call for unity during his inauguration felt like an insult to those harmed by racism, xenophobia and homophobia.
“Calling for unity with people who actively want to harm people is disgusting,” said the protester, who gave the name Anna.
The Biden administration can’t be counted on to “meaningfully change” immigration policy without public pressure, said one protester, who gave the initial D. but declined to give a full name, citing fears of doxing.
“I don’t think immigration should be enforced violently,” the protester said, suggesting social workers and others address immigration instead of law enforcement.
On Thursday morning, several business leaders denounced the property damage.
“Last night’s violence and destruction in downtown has no place in our city or democracy,” said a statement signed by Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority Executive Director Mary Bacarella, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber President Rachel Smith, Visit Seattle President Tom Norwalk and Downtown Seattle Association President Jon Scholes. “Every Seattle elected official should immediately denounce these extremists.”
After the vandalism of the AmazonGo store, police arrived and trailed the group in vehicles, on bikes and on foot, eventually issuing a dispersal order. After a scuffle between a member of the crowd and another person, police tackled and arrested the black-clad protester.
Windows were also shattered at the federal William Kenzo Nakamura Courthouse on Fifth Avenue, police said.
Inside the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building on Second Avenue, about 10 officers stood guard in tactical gear with ICE and Department of Homeland Security badges. Some wore gas masks.
Later, about 40 of the protesters wound through downtown, Pike Place Market and South Lake Union, along the way smashing windows at the Pike Place Starbucks. Police rushed into the market and made at least one arrest.
In South Lake Union, a line of officers on bikes rode single file guarding the Amazon Spheres and an AmazonGo store as protesters chanted, “We protect people, you protect property.”
Police said the three arrests were of a 22-year-old man suspected of property damage at the courthouse, a 29-year-old woman accused of assaulting a person and kicking an officer, and a 33-year-old man suspected of property damage and burglary at the Starbucks.