Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from demonstrations and other events on Wednesday, June 10, as the day unfolded. Click here to see protest updates from Thursday, June 11.
It has been more than two weeks since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed on May 25 by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. The protests over Floyd’s death, police tactics and systemic racism continue, not just in Washington and the United States, but around the world.
Throughout Wednesday, on this page, we’ll post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on protests in the Seattle area. Updates from Tuesday can be found here.
If you’ve taken part in these protests, we’d like to hear from you: What has been your experience? What has being out there meant to you? Click here to let us know.
CHAZ protesters spend the night organizing a concert and movie night
Capitol Hill protesters — or denizens of the new "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" — spent another night by the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct listening to speakers, sharing food, dancing and creating colorful street art.
A small concert popped up at one intersection during the night, featuring funk/hip-hop band Marshall Law, a group based in Seattle. A cardboard sign was propped up in front of the band's makeshift stage. It read: "Defund the police, fund the community, free all protesters."
"What we're doing here — it's for a purpose," one of the band members said after the show, according to a livestream of the event.
After Marshall Law wrapped up their performance, it was time for another movie night.
On Tuesday night, the group rolled out a large projector and watched Ava DuVernay's "13th," a documentary that focuses on the racial injustice of the country's criminal justice system. On Wednesday, they screened "Paris is Burning," which features drag queens living in New York City during the mid-to-late 1980s.
Protesters begin painting 'Black Lives Matter' on Capitol Hill's Pine Street
Seattle has joined a handful of cities now displaying new Black Lives Matter art that protesters have painted onto the street.
On Wednesday evening, Capitol Hill protesters chose a spot on Pine Street between 10th and 11th avenues to paint the three giant words.
Similar Black Lives Matter street art first popped up in Washington, D.C. last week, and since then, other cities have followed suit. In Raleigh, N.C., the words “End Racism Now" were painted on a downtown street over the weekend, according to the Washington Post. Protesters in California were also inspired by the D.C. art, and recently painted “Black Lives Matter!” along a street leading to the state's Capitol building in Sacramento.
— Scott Greenstone ⛰ (@evergreenstone) June 11, 2020
Seattle protesters draw attention from President Donald Trump, who threatens to 'take back' the city
President Donald Trump addressed Seattle's protests on Twitter Wednesday evening, calling for Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan to "take back" their city from the "anarchists." If they don't, he threatened, he will.
Durkan tweeted back within the hour: "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker. #BlackLivesMatter."
Inslee also responded with a tweet saying, "A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state's business. 'Stoop' tweeting."
‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ protesters discuss organizing, holding their ground
More than 100 protesters gathered at 12th Avenue and Pine Street Wednesday afternoon inside barriers marked with the warning “no cops” and signs describing the area as "Free Capitol Hill." Anyone could speak, and several talked about organizing so they could keep the space from the Seattle Police Department’s inevitable return.
“We can’t lose steam,” said a speaker who identified herself as Ashley. “The idea is presence, presence, presence.”
Ashley and others passed around sheets where protesters could sign up to come in shifts and stay in the zone. They discussed developing agendas and activities to keep people occupied, and breaking into workgroups Thursday to move forward.
“This location has not been held yet,” said a speaker who identified themself as a member of the Suquamish Tribe. “This is a place the police have retreated from while they decide what to do next.”
Many speakers referred to the movement as a “leaderless movement,” but a speaker, who only wanted to be identified as Rell for fear of police backlash, said he thinks the group needs multiple leaders instead of one.
“In a leaderless movement there has to be people stepping up to be leaders,” Rell said. It was his first day of protesting since George Floyd died, though Rell said he’d protested after the death of Michael Brown and others at the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’re not organized,” said a speaker who called himself Kenji X. “It will be for naught if we don’t get organized.”
Behind him, two men carried tall stacks of Domino’s pizza into the crowd.
Car crashes into crowd of protesters, no one seriously injured
A peaceful protest in front of the Seattle Police Department's West Precinct in Belltown took a sudden violent turn when a car ran through a bicycle line of protesters.
The driver hit the cyclists, then turned into the garage on Ninth Street, just south of Virginia Street. Two cyclists, who were part of a group helping with crowd control and protection, had what appeared to be hand and arm cuts.
Protesters knocked out the back window of the Honda as it pulled into a garage. It is unclear what happened to the driver; police weren't seen immediately responding.
Twenty-year-old Jordan Davis-Miller was giving a speech when the incident occurred, with protesters seated on the road with their backs to where the car hit the cyclists.
The protest, which was upbeat and peaceful, quickly turned angry. At 7 p.m., about 15 minutes after the incident, the crowd started marching again, back toward Capitol Hill.
The Seattle Fire Department tweeted that officials responded to reports of a vehicle and bicyclist collision near a protest area in the 800 block of Virginia Street. Crews were canceled because no injuries were reported, according to Seattle fire spokesman David Cuerpo.
One group of protesters marches to Seattle Police Department's West Precinct
After listening to speakers, the youth group gathered at Volunteer Park started heading toward the Seattle Police Department's West Precinct in Belltown.
Once the crowd arrived at the precinct, they were met by a fence, and decided to sit in silence for 8 1/2 minutes — the length of time a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into George Floyd's neck before killing him.
Jordan Davis-Miller, one of the protesters, said he wasn't surprised by the size of the crowd.
"It's incredible to see how many people are out here and how much love and support the Black community is getting," 20-year-old Davis-Miller said. "I feel like a lot of people are coming to their senses."
Crowd is behind a fence in front of the Virginia Street police precinct. Not an officer in sight. pic.twitter.com/TUeuMHBirZ
— Scott Hanson (@shansonSeaTimes) June 11, 2020
Olivia Crawford, who just finished her senior season for the women’s basketball team at Seattle U, was a speaker at Volunteer Park and was joined by 3 teammates on the march. Hear her message. pic.twitter.com/ZwkrJ09SJ9
— Scott Hanson (@shansonSeaTimes) June 11, 2020
Group gathers in Capitol Hill for town hall-style meeting
A group has also gathered in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone — where police are still nowhere to be seen — for a town hall-style meeting.
Citizen journalist Omari Salisbury, who has consistently provided protest livestreams, said in a tweet that the group started forming breakout sessions around 5 p.m. to "further define the rules, policies, laws of the zone."
One speaker injected some urgency into the crowd to get demands met before the state reopens from coronavirus closures.
"If they say 'Go back to work,' this crowd is going to get pretty thin," the speaker said.
At the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, where police are nowhere to be seen — and the current speaker is injecting some urgency into the crowd to get demands met quickly before Washington reopens post-COVID.
“If they say ‘go back to work,’ this crowd is going to get pretty thin.” pic.twitter.com/iAQujXYyj4
— Scott Greenstone ⛰ (@evergreenstone) June 11, 2020
UW community calls on university to sever ties with Seattle police
Hundreds of faculty and students have signed a petition that calls on the University of Washington to sever ties with the Seattle Police Department, saying the university has a duty to protect people on campus from police violence. But the university says it does not have a formal relationship with city police.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the two-page petition circulated on a Google document was accompanied by 223 pages of signatures. It’s part of a larger movement to reduce police presence at schools and on campuses across the country. Two weeks ago, the University of Minnesota scaled back its ties with Minnesota police in the wake of the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed by a white Minnesota police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
The petition calls on the university to stop handing people detained by UW police over to Seattle police custody, stop using Seattle police to respond to public safety needs, and stop using the city Police Department for security for events such as football games.
Crowd gathers at Volunteer Park
A crowd of mostly young people has gathered at Volunteer Park.
This picture does not do justice to the crowd of mostly young people at Volunteer Park. There has to be more than a thousand. Speaker has crowd chanting “We are power, we are change.” pic.twitter.com/jY2qcHHMlx
— Scott Hanson (@shansonSeaTimes) June 10, 2020
King County health director declares racism a public health crisis
Racism is a public health crisis, King County's top public health official declared Wednesday.
Decades of systemic racism has adversely affected Black people and other people of color in the United States, said Patty Hayes, director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.
"It's not a new crisis," Hayes said during Wednesday's King County Board of Health meeting.
She pledged that her agency will "recommit ourselves to work with the community" and with King County executive Dow Constantine's office to break down the systemic issues that lead to negative health impacts for people of color.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic people have been infected at significantly higher rates than white people in King County and in Washington state overall.
SPD officers must keep body-worn videos recording during demonstrations
Seattle Police Department officers assigned to work demonstrations must have their body-worn video cameras recording during the demonstrations, Seattle police Chief Carmen Best ordered, according to the department's website.
The change modifies the SPD manual related to in-car and body-worn video.
Mayor Jenny Durkan committed to requiring police deployed to demonstrations to keep their body cameras on throughout their shifts during a meeting with Black Lives Matter Seattle – King County last Saturday, said Marlon Brown, a board member.
Durkan announced Sunday she would issue an Emergency Order to require the interim body camera policy change and would work with the Community Police Commission, Seattle City Councilmembers, the Seattle Office of Police Accountability to revise the policy. She said she would also consult the Public Defenders Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, which has raised concerns about privacy and surveillance, particularly for people of color, with police recording protesters.
"Activating officers’ body-worn camera video during demonstrations is an important way to provide additional accountability and help restore public confidence," Durkan said in a prepared statement.
The policy previously stated that officers would not record people "lawfully exercising their freedom of speech, press, association, assembly, or religion unless they have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is occurring or when ordered to record by a supervisor." Community groups and protesters have asked for activation to improve police accountability, Durkan said.
1. Tomorrow, I will issue an Emergency Order and send it to the @SeattleCouncil requiring that officers turn on their body cameras during public protests. I recognize that public trust and confidence is broken - people want body cams on to provide additional accountability.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 8, 2020
Public buses shouldn't transport cops to protests, say advocates, county councilmembers
After seeing King County Metro buses transport police to recent protests against institutional racism and police violence, several local elected leaders and advocates say the county should bar that from happening again.
“Public transit should not be used to quell movements for justice,” Metropolitan King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay said in a statement provided by the Transit Riders Union, Seattle King County NAACP and others.
The question of using public transit to transport police has flared up in other cities, particularly as police have cracked down on protesters. Boston's transit agency has said it will no longer transport law enforcement to protests. The international Amalgamated Transit Union issued a statement supporting drivers' right to "refuse the dangerous duty of transporting police to protests and arrested demonstrators away from these communities where many of these drivers live. This is a misuse of public transit.”
At least four Metro buses were used to transport Seattle police officers and Washington State Patrol troopers downtown May 30, when large groups gathered to protest after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, according to Metro. Metro has not since provided an updated number of how many buses or drivers have transported police or the cost of that service.
Following more demonstrations, Metro since said it changed its process for such requests to direct police agencies to request transportation through the county Emergency Operations Center, rather than from Metro directly.
“The unprecedented frequency, duration, and scope of these types of requests during the demonstrations have become operationally unsustainable for Metro,” a spokesman said.
Advocates say the agency should instead make a full commitment to not transport police.
“We call upon both King County Metro and Sound Transit to make a clear public affirmation that they will no longer, in the future, transport police to or from protests; and that they will not, under any circumstances, transport people who have been arrested or detained,” the groups said in a joint statement.
Metro said May 31 that “under no circumstances have we transported, nor will we transport, people who were arrested.”
Neither Metro nor Sound Transit provided further comment Wednesday.
Along with Zahilay, King County Councilmembers Jeanne Kohl-Welles and Joe McDermott signed the statement.
SPD looks to return to East Precinct, resume normal operations
Update: Seattle Police Department on June 11 retracted its claim, below, that denizens of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone were extorting businesses. For details, see June 11's Live Updates.
After Seattle police received several credible threats that the department’s East Precinct on Capitol Hill would be burned down, police vacated the building on 12th Avenue and Pine Street on Monday and boarded up the windows to prevent anyone from entering or throwing incendiary devices inside, Assistant Seattle Police Chief Deanna Nollette said at a Wednesday news briefing outside police headquarters.
Early on in the protests that have continued for the past two weeks, downtown shops were looted and protesters set fires at some businesses, Nollette said. The East Precinct, she said, isn’t a stand-alone building, and police were concerned that a fire could easily spread to adjacent residences and businesses.
A day earlier, on Sunday, police heard from protesters that barricades set up around East Precinct had become “a flash point” for violence.
“We removed the barricades because we wanted to support more peaceful demonstrations,” said Nollette, who heads the department’s criminal-investigations bureau.
Now, Nollette said police are working to identify protest leaders and want to initiate a discussion about reopening the precinct. Officers are still responding to 911 calls in the area, she said.
“We’d like to return to the East Precinct and normal operations. It will improve response times and allow detectives to continue to work their cases,” Nollette said.
She said police have heard from Capitol Hill community members that some protesters have set up barricades in the neighborhood – and are apparently demanding to see people’s ID, and in some instances, residents and business owners have been asked to pay a fee to operate in a roughly six-block area around the precinct.
No one has legal authority to demand ID or payment, and the latter “is the crime of extortion,” she said, adding there have also been reports of people armed with firearms attempting to intimidate protesters.
“We are dedicated to working with peaceful protesters on a way to move forward,” Nollette said. “There’s a whole citywide effort to try to identify who the leaders are. It’s just a matter of establishing a dialogue so we can take down the plywood and welcome people back into the lobby.”
Inslee orders new investigation into killing of Manuel Ellis by Tacoma police
Gov. Jay Inslee has ordered a new, independent investigation into the killing of Manuel Ellis by Tacoma police, after new revelations emerged that Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies and a Washington State Patrol trooper were at the scene when Ellis was detained and ultimately killed on March 3.
But it’s unclear who will investigate the killing and who will decide whether officers will be charged.
“I have become convinced that the Pierce County Sheriff should not complete the investigation of the death of Manuel Ellis and the county prosecutor should not review the investigation and make charging decisions,” Inslee said in a statement.
“At this point we are working to determine who will conduct the independent investigation and who will make charging decisions,” Inslee said. “That said, the state will ensure an independent investigation and independent prosecutorial review into the death of Manuel Ellis. We will ensure that the work is done free of conflicts of interest.”
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department had been nearing the end of its investigation, and an investigative briefing with the prosecuting attorney had been scheduled for Wednesday. It was abruptly canceled after the new revelations.
“The county prosecutor believes that she has an irreconcilable conflict that would preclude her office from handling this case,” Inslee said.
Ellis was killed March 3 while being arrested and restrained by Tacoma police. In a video shot by a bystander that became public last week, Ellis can be seen falling on his back, struggling with officers on top of him. “Oh my God, stop hitting him, just arrest him,” the woman filming the video yells.
The county medical examiner ruled the case a homicide, concluding that Ellis died from a lack of oxygen due to physical restraint. The medical examiner’s report also listed methamphetamine intoxication and heart disease as factors in his death.
In a separate statement Wednesday, Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett said she would “step back from the case.” She said she’d been told that one sheriff’s deputy was on the scene when Ellis was killed, but did not mention multiple officers or a state trooper.
Read more here.
Seattle School Board advances efforts to temporarily suspend partnership with police
The Seattle School Board advanced a proposal Wednesday morning calling for a one-year moratorium on a partnership between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Police Department, an arrangement that provides five armed police officers across city schools.
If it receives approval from the full School Board on June 24, the district will become one of several school systems across the country to remove police officers from school campuses, including Portland and Minneapolis, where a white police officer killed George Floyd.
Protesters suing Seattle over police response seek temporary restraining order on use of blast balls, tear gas, pepper spray
Protesters and activists who sued Seattle on Tuesday over its police response to recent street demonstrations are seeking a temporary restraining order that would immediately forbid the city from “targeting peaceful protesters with blast balls, and canisters of tear gas and pepper spray.”
Such an order would for a short time restrict how Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best manage ongoing demonstrations against the police killings of Black men and institutional racism.
Filed in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and other lawyers on behalf of Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, several protesters and a journalist, the lawsuit alleges Seattle has deprived the plaintiffs of their First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights by using chemical agents and exploding projectiles to “control and suppress” crowds.
Durkan and Best have cited rocks, bottles and fireworks thrown at officers by people in crowds as provoking police actions.
To win a temporary restraining order, the plaintiffs must show their case is likely to succeed in the long run and must show they’re likely to suffer harm in the absence of such an order.
The plaintiffs also are seeking an injunction that would forbid Seattle from using blast balls, tear gas and pepper spray until the case is resolved.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones has set an initial hearing for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. The hearing may deal with substantive issues or scheduling, said Brian Robick, ACLU spokesman.
Watch George Floyd's brother speak before Congress: 'I'm tired of the pain'
Watch George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, as he makes an emotional plea to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, asking Congress to take action and prevent more deaths at the hands of police officers.
“I’m tired,” said. “I’m tired of the pain. ... I’m here today to ask you to make it stop. Stop the pain. Stop us from being tired.”
The hearing comes days after Democrats in Congress proposed The Justice in Policing Act, the most ambitious law enforcement reform from Congress in years, which confronts several aspects of policing that have come under strong criticism, especially as more and more police violence is captured on cellphone video and shared widely across the nation and the world.
The package would limit legal protections for police, create a national database of excessive-force incidents and ban police choke holds, among other changes.
It would revise the federal criminal police misconduct statute to make it easier to prosecute officers who are involved in “reckless” misconduct and it would change “qualified immunity” protections to more broadly enable damage claims against police in lawsuits.
The legislation would ban racial profiling, boost requirements for police body cameras and limit the transfer of military equipment to local jurisdictions. Democrats say the legislation would make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
Information from The Seattle Time archives is included in this report.
Why Seattle used tear gas after banning it
Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday announced a ban on "the use of tear gas for 30 days in any of these protests." But police deployed it a little over two days later. Here's how ambiguity and a loophole undermined the ban.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Protesters poured into Seattle City Hall last night, led by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and listened to speeches advocating Durkan’s removal before settling in for a movie night on Capitol Hill. This came after protesters and the ACLU sued Seattle, blaming Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best for “unnecessary violence” at demonstrations. Read how Tuesday unfolded.
Manuel Ellis called Tacoma police "sir" as he told them he couldn’t breathe, new video shows. Ellis' family is calling for an independent investigation of the moments leading up to his death under police restraint.
Why do white people seem to be changing their minds, suddenly, on the justice system and race? Columnist Danny Westneat looks at the titanic forces at work.
But ... “what happens if white people lose their will to fight?” Writer Natachi Onwuamaegbu explains how, as a Black woman, she doesn’t have the choice to stop thinking about racism. She shares what it's like to be a young Black woman in America today.
How to teach your kids about racism in America: For starters, get past the idea that young kids are unaware of differences. Four faculty members at Seattle universities explain how they’ve talked about race with their own children, and how they train teachers to address it. Plus, here are recommended books for youth on this topic.
CrossFit's CEO is out after his tweet about George Floyd sparked a backlash and led other companies to cut ties.
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