Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from demonstrations and other events on Friday, June 12, as the day unfolded.
It has been two and a half weeks since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed May 25 by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for about eight 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.
Earlier this week, Seattle police took down barricades near the East Precinct on Capitol Hill and boarded up the building. Since then, protesters have claimed a few blocks of the streets nearby, renaming it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).
Along East Pine Street, between 10th Avenue East and 11th Avenue East, “BLACK LIVES MATTER” is painted in 19-foot block letters, spelling out the cause that’s brought thousands of people to this protest. The mural is a work in progress, with artists crafting their own work within each letter to express what the moment means to them. See their work up close and learn how it all came together.
Throughout Friday, on this page, we’ll post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on protests in the Seattle area. Updates from Thursday 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.
Some Capitol Hill protesters now asking the area to be recognized as CHOP
Speakers continued to share their experiences and voice their frustrations in Cal Anderson Park past 11 p.m., while other protesters spread out to start smaller conversations nearby.
Many of the speakers have started to urge the group to begin calling the space the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, rather than the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
"We are not autonomous, we are not seceding, we are not asking for military intervention," one speaker said, according to one livestream. "We are peacefully protesting, legally. We can do this ... We are going with CHOP, for now."
The night remained mostly peaceful, according to multiple livestreams.
The crowd briefly heated up around 1:30 a.m., when protesters started chasing a car that attempted to barrel through a barricade set up near 11th Avenue and Pine Street. The car quickly turned around to drive east on Pine Street, with a group of protesters running after it.
Several people shouted at others who were chasing the car to de-escalate the situation. No injuries were immediately reported. Within minutes, the car had left the area, and the scene quieted.
Capitol Hill protesters gather in Cal Anderson Park for nightly teach-in
A crowd of protesters has gathered in Cal Anderson Park for another teach-in, which has become a nightly activity in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone — a space some are now calling the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest.
"They're killing us ... We can't have a concert in the park about it," said Mia Paz, one of the speakers.
Paz tweeted earlier: "Please stop the comfy cozy utopia talk and reclaim this moment as the #BlackLivesMatter protest that it is. Autonomous zones are for fiction novels. This is a sit in. They are NOT the same and y'all are out here looking WAY too comfortable."
Other speakers voiced similar messages, according to multiple livestreams.
"This is not a party, this is a protest," one speaker said. "All you people are out here for … people who look like me, and I don't want you to forget that."
Another speaker asked everyone who identifies as white to raise their hands, and keep them up if they have $10. The speaker then challenged every white person to give $10 to a Black person in the CHAZ before they leave.
If this is hard for people, the speaker added, they need to ask themselves whether they're really willing to redistribute wealth that has been historically denied to Black people.
Another woman stepped up to the microphone to urge the crowd to vote.
"If you're here in this park, in this movement, you need to be registered to vote," she said. "You need to vote. Because the only way things are going to change is if we exercise our right to vote. People have died for it. People have bled for it ... This is for every person who opted out of voting in 2016. Opting out is not an option."
Watch a livestream of the teach-in here.
Durkan visits CHAZ's community gardens, meets with organizers
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she met with organizers and community members when she made an appearance Friday in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
"For as long as I can remember, Capitol Hill has been autonomous - it's always been a place where people go to express themselves freely," Durkan said on Twitter Friday afternoon. "Today at the #CHAZ, I spoke with organizers and community about how we can move forward and keep our communities safe, together."
She also said she talked with Marcus Henderson, who helped create the community gardens that have popped up in Cal Anderson Park.
Jerry Dean said he met Durkan when she walked through Cal Anderson Park, where he has been sleeping for weeks.
He's now living alongside protesters in a new tent someone gave him.
“I think she’s a wonderful person, but if she’s going to come here, she should be part of the solution," he said.
Dean said he had been sleeping in the park before the CHAZ existed and thinks leaders like Durkan can do more to address longstanding issues connected to race like homelessness.
Earlier today, I visited the #CHAZ and met Marcus Henderson, the person behind the new community garden popping up in Cal Anderson Park. Read more about Marcus and the work that’s gone into creating the gardens: https://t.co/mobTYoWIcK pic.twitter.com/82lyVxyyV1
— Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 13, 2020
For as long as I can remember, Capitol Hill has been autonomous - it's always been a place where people go to express themselves freely. Today at the #CHAZ, I spoke with organizers and community about how we can move forward and keep our communities safe, together. pic.twitter.com/XhtXHiIl9K
— Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 12, 2020
Fox News runs digitally altered images in coverage of Seattle’s protests, Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone
Fox News published digitally altered and misleading photos on stories about Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in what photojournalism experts called a clear violation of ethical standards for news organizations.
As part of a package of stories Friday about the zone, where demonstrators have taken over several city blocks on Capitol Hill after Seattle police abandoned the East Precinct, Fox’s website for much of the day featured a photo of a man standing with a military-style rifle in front of what appeared to be a smashed retail storefront.
The image was actually a mashup of photos from different days, taken by different photographers — it was done by splicing a Getty Images photo of an armed man, who had been at the protest zone June 10, with other images from May 30 of smashed windows in downtown Seattle. Another altered image combined the gunman photo with yet another image, making it appear as though he was standing in front of a sign declaring “You are now entering Free Cap Hill.”
Fox’s site had no disclaimers revealing the photos had been manipulated. The network removed the images after inquiries from The Seattle Times.
CHAZ protesters continue to use the space for art and conversation
It's Day 5 in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and the neighborhood is once again busy with homemade food, local art and conversation — today, protesters are discussing how President Donald Trump and some right-wing media outlets are misrepresenting the new space.
Denizens of the CHAZ also frequently discuss changes they hope to see in the city. A website for the space was created earlier this week, which includes some background, photos and a list of the group's demands. Some of them include: reparations for victims of police brutality, decriminalization of the acts of protest and abolition of imprisonment.
Jared Escobar, a software developer, said Seattle leaders need to listen to all the demands that have been made, like diverting money from the police budget to the community. There have been many messages from different groups, but they’ve all been loud and clear, he said.
Andres Guerrero, a University of Washington PhD student, said he also wants to see changes in the mathematics field, which he says has a long history of racism (including contributing to predictive policing). He hopes this momentum keeps going.
“Hopefully people keep discussing these things," Guerrero said.
Done by florist Piper Essick, with flowers donated by a local wholesaler pic.twitter.com/pBcoNDXqIb
— Asia Fields (@asiakmfields) June 13, 2020
Local chefs John and Ferdous are distributing beef curry to protesters. They got the potatoes and onions from the No Cop Co-Op. pic.twitter.com/8GKGqscoGn
— Sydney Brownstone (@sydbrownstone) June 13, 2020
Young people without housing find respite in the CHAZ
Isaiah Warila, 22, was living in a long line of tents on South Weller Street outside the Navigation Center in Little Saigon before the city cleared the encampment last month.
Now he lives in a tent in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or the CHAZ.
Warila came up to the CHAZ with his 10-month-old dog, Roscoe, because he heard about the protests and police withdrawing from the East Precinct. He'd been sleeping only a couple of hours each night, trying to guard his things, taking drugs to stay awake to protect himself and his property.
The CHAZ is a welcome change.
"There's such a youthful energy," Warila said as friends cooked over a small camp stove behind him. "The fact that I don't have family to go to, it's beautiful, because it's like it's a big-ass family."
Sunny, who did not want to provide her last name, has also been staying in a tent on Pine Street. She doesn't consider herself homeless, but believes the CHAZ "is one of the best opportunities for homeless people to get support and get on their feet without being harassed by police."
Sunny, 21, said she's had bad experiences with police when she's been in mental health crisis.
"It's a rule in my friends' group that if someone's having a mental health crisis, you don't call police," Sunny said.
There's free food, free weed and free harm reduction supplies. Around the corner from Sunny's tent, volunteers have set up the People's Community Clinic, a solar-powered truck with free socks, first aid and hygiene supplies.
Snohomish County executive commits to criminal justice reform
Snohomish County's executive said Friday he is creating an Office of Social Justice to implement criminal justice reforms in response to protests against the police killing of George Floyd.
The reforms, outlined in a proclamation from Executive Dave Somers, include requiring law enforcement officers to use body and dashboard cameras, creating a community police oversight board.
Somers also said he aims to reform the cash bail system, address outstanding fines against low-income residents and implement antiracism training for county employees. He broadly said he would consider the needs of communities of color while working on the county budget.
"I pledge to lean into those changes no matter the discomfort it brings," Somers said in a statement. "I call on our community to join me in ensuring that we do not fall back on these commitments."
The proclamation comes after increased attention on the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. In recent months, newly elected Sheriff Adam Fortney rehired deputies previously fired for dishonestly and multiple deputies have been scrutinized for use of force. The police chief of Snohomish was reassigned last week after facing criticism of how he handled armed groups who responded to false rumors that Antifa activists were heading to the city.
“In the last weeks, I have seen the best and worst of Snohomish County," Somers said. "We have seen concerned people protest police brutality, racism, and violence. While these allies march for peace and justice; agitators, opportunists, and white supremacist groups have infiltrated these protests and caused damage."
Trump says chokeholds by police should generally ‘be ended’
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’d like to see an end to the police use of chokeholds, except in certain circumstances.
“I don’t like chokeholds,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel that aired Friday. “Generally speaking,” he said, the practice “should be ended.” But Trump also talked at length about a scenario in which a police officer is alone and fighting one-on-one and could have to resort to the tactic.
Chokeholds have come under renewed scrutiny in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in police custody, which has sparked mass protests across the nation and around the world demanding justice, racial equality and policing reform. Though the tactic was not used on Floyd, who died after a police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck and after Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe, it has become a symbol of police brutality and there have been calls nationwide to ban its use.
The maneuver is banned in many departments across the country already.
Read the full story here.
March of Silence organizers say 60,000 took part in demonstration
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County estimates that 60,000 people took part in the March of Silence Friday afternoon.
Marchers silently walked about 1.8 miles from Seattle's Judkins Park to Jefferson Park. The organization said thousands more demonstrators marched in cities across the state.
Judge bars Seattle police from using tear gas, force against nonviolent protesters
A federal judge in Seattle has found evidence that the Seattle Police Department used excessive force and violated the free-speech rights of thousands of protesters and has issued a temporary restraining order preventing the department from using pepper spray, tear gas, foam-tipped projectiles or any other force against peaceful protesters.
In issuing the order, U.S. District Judge Richard Jones concluded, based on video and other evidence, “that on some occasions the SPD has in fact used less-lethal weapons disproportionately and without provocation.” In instances where looting of vandalism was occurring, the judge said, police should have gone after the offenders, not turned their weapons on the entire crowd, the upshot being that the department deprived everyone who wasn’t breaking the law their constitutional right to gather and protest.
Moreover, the judge said the repeated use of tear gas, pepper-spray and other crowd-control measures by the police likely kept some protesters at home. He concluded that “SPD’s use of less-lethal, crowd control weapons have surely chilled speech.”
And Jones said there was substantial evidence that the SPD’s violent actions against the crowd were in retaliation to the very message that brought the throngs to the streets in the first place: police brutality and racism.
Read the full story here.
Washington State Patrol chief says agency will stop using tear gas ‘until further notice’
SHELTON, Mason County — The Washington State Patrol won’t be using tear gas on any demonstrators during the coronavirus pandemic, the agency’s leader said Friday.
After Seattle and Olympia recently banned the use of tear gas for dispersing protests, Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste said he ordered the State Patrol to also comply with those cities’ directives. But, citing concerns by public health officials that tear gas could increase chances of COVID-19 spreading, Batiste said he is expanding his directive.
“In fact I’ve taken it a step further, to say that we will no longer use gas until further notice, particularly while we’re in this pandemic,” said Batiste. “We don’t want to be a part of spreading the COVID virus, and dealing with people’s immune systems.”
Batiste’s remarks came during a news conference Friday at the agency’s training academy, where troopers also demonstrated their crowd-control tactics and took questions about the agency’s tactics and response to the protests.
Police disciplinary records are largely kept secret in U.S.
PHILADELPHIA — Officer Derek Chauvin had more than a dozen misconduct complaints against him before he put his knee on George Floyd’s neck. Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City officer who seized Eric Garner in a deadly chokehold, had eight. Ryan Pownall, a Philadelphia officer facing murder charges in the shooting of David Jones, had 15 over five years.
But the public didn’t know about any of that until the victims’ deaths.
Citizen complaints against police across the U.S. are largely kept secret, either under the law or by union contract — a practice some criminal justice experts say deprives the public of information that could be used to root out problem officers before it’s too late.
In recent years, there have been dozens of examples of officers who had numerous complaints against them of excessive force, harassment or other misconduct before they were accused of killing someone on duty.
Confidentiality “makes it really tough for the public to know just who it is they are dealing with and to know whether their department or any particular officer is one they would want out in the streets,” said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who studies police behavior.
Thousands march to Beacon Hill in silent protest
Thousands filled Judkins Park on Friday afternoon to march up Beacon Hill to Jefferson Park — in silence.
“The world is watching,” Ebony Miranda, chair of the organizing group, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, told marchers, “let our silence speak volumes.”
The organizers, whose chapter of Black Lives Matter is suing Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and police Chief Carmen Best for the Police Department’s treatment of protesters, has outlined its demands to the city, county and state: they include cutting at least $100 million from SPD’s budget, closing the new youth detention center in King County, ending cash bail statewide and declaring racism a public health crisis.
Friday marks two weeks since the first protests broke out in Seattle, a time in which protests have happened every day in the city. Miranda encouraged marchers to use the silence to reflect.
“We are on the precipice of a major shift in the fight for Black liberation,” Miranda said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint. ... I ask you: What will you do to make sure we sustain this movement? What can you do in your jobs, in your schools?”
Thousands of demonstrators here at the March of Silence. The line stretches back so far, I still can’t see the end. pic.twitter.com/xo3BSCgToJ
— amandamsnyder (@amandamsnyder) June 12, 2020
Silence, and demands, from protesters at Judkins Park
A large crowd of demonstrators is gathered at Seattle's Judkins Park, where speakers outlined demands, including defunding police, ending cash bail and halting a new youth jail in King County.
"We have to look up now and tell 'em we're not having it any more!" said the event's first speaker, Dominique Davis, who runs Community Passageways, a nonprofit helping Black and brown people in court cases.
Dominique Davis, first speaker, runs Community Passageways, a small nonprofit helping young Black and brown people in court cases: “We have to look up now and tell em we’re not having it no more!” pic.twitter.com/zMSMcR04vW
— Scott Greenstone (@evergreenstone) June 12, 2020
The demonstrators also observed moments of complete silence.
Complete silence here at Judkins Park, where leaders ask everyone to take a moment to breathe pic.twitter.com/8p1lZjtgsJ
— Scott Greenstone (@evergreenstone) June 12, 2020
Political consultants of color say they're being shut out by state Democrats
A group of political consultants of color in Washington state says they've been systemically shut out of top contract awards by state Democratic Party campaigns, which have overwhelmingly handed business to white consultants.
The Political Consultants of Color Coalition says the state Democratic elected-official-led committees that run campaigns for the state Legislature in 2018 awarded only 5% of contracts to Black, Indigenous and People-Of-Color (BIPOC)-run political consulting firms.
"The decision to not work with firms of color has been made despite several firms of color in existence, and actively pursuing contracts, during this time. From 2018 through 2020, these BIPOC owned firms saw tremendous success at the ballot box -- especially relative to their white peers -- but were still left out of any of the campaigns and races, which were identified by the party as priority races. These decisions reflect a deeply broken campaign apparatus that systematically steers contracts and compensation towards white consultants and away from consultants of color," the group wrote in a statement Friday.
The controversy over the disparities was first reported Friday by Crosscut, the online Seattle news site, which noted the business practices of the Democrats clash with the party's stated support for equity and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Christina Blocker, a Black, Tacoma-based political consultant who is part of the coalition, said the disparate treatment is not a new issue.
"This is a conversation we have been having," said Blocker, managing partner of Archway Consulting Group, in an interview with The Seattle Times. She said the process for awarding contracts has not been transparent and that BIPOC consultant requests for better access to the party's favored-consultant rosters have been ignored. "Even if the thought was 'we are not intending to be racist,' the impact is exactly that," she said.
Blocker said if the Democratic Party is serious about equity, it will embrace the group's critique and its demands.
State Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski told Crosscut the party has been working on matters of diversity and now has "the most diverse staff in the history of the Washington state Democratic Party in terms of racial diversity, gender diversity, sexual orientation diversity — all of those things." But she acknowledged "we can always do more, and better." A party spokesman said she was not available for further comment Friday.
The coalition of consultants of color is making a series of public demands of state Democratic Party, county Democratic and Legislative District organizations. The demands include that the organizations publicly report the percentages of spending with BIPOC consultants and contractors, report the racial composition of party leadership and staff, and ensure pay equity between BIPOC and white consultants and contractors.
The group also is making similar demands for "ally organizations, including unions, and progressive non-profit organizations."
'I didn't want anything bad to happen,' says man shot during Capitol Hill protest
Dan Gregory was sitting on a sidewalk on Capitol Hill on Sunday evening, eating a hot dog, when he saw a car turn north onto 11th Avenue and barrel toward protesters, many with their backs turned to the oncoming danger.
Gregory, a 27-year-old who grew up in the Baltimore area and moved to Bothell in January, dropped his hotdog and ran after the car. He reached through the driver’s open window and grabbed the steering wheel, yelling for the driver to stop.
“I didn’t want anything bad to happen to those people,” Gregory said Friday on the back deck of his lawyer’s Queen Anne home, the first time he has spoken publicly about the incident. “For three seconds, I slowed him down, fighting over that steering wheel.”
He said the driver — who has since been identified as 31-year-old Nikolas Fernandez of Seattle — sped up, forcing Gregory to let go. Gregory caught back up to the car and punched the driver, who, according to first-degree assault charges filed Wednesday, reached over and grabbed a 9mm handgun from the passenger seat and shot Gregory in the upper right arm.
“It made me so angry,” Gregory, whose father was a Baltimore police officer before his death in 2016, said of seeing the car drive through protesters. “I would do it again. I would die for people I don’t know. That’s me.”
Gregory, who is Black, recalled once being pulled over with his dad in Georgia and said his father demonstrated how to slowly reach for his ID.
“He said, 'Move real slow.' ... My dad taught me how to be cautious with the police,” he said.
A supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, Gregory said that for him, real change will come when he can drive past a police officer and not break into a sweat, wondering if he will be the next Black man to die at the hands of police.
His mother, Della Gregory, a retired 911 operator, said she’s proud of her son but also relieved that he wasn’t killed.
“By the grace of God, he was hit here,” she said, touching her son’s shoulder, “and not here,” she said, moving her hand to his chest.
Starbucks pivots after forbidding employees to wear BLM symbols, offers own tamer version
Just two years after Starbucks faced a high-profile reckoning over how Black people are treated in its stores, the coffee giant is facing another backlash for a ban on employees wearing Black Lives Matter symbols at work, which it belatedly reversed under pressure Friday.
Critics took to social media earlier this week to flay the Seattle-based retailer and self-styled corporate progressive over reports that employees had been barred from wearing clothing or accessories with Black Lives Matter logos.
That policy has gone over poorly at a moment when tens of millions of Americans want to show support for the BLM movement — and barely two years since Starbucks had to apologize and conduct companywide racial sensitivity training after a store employee in Philadelphia called the police on two Black men there.
“You choose to be on the wrong side of history, @Starbucks,” wrote one critic on Twitter. “If you’re afraid of pissing off your racist customers, you’re just as guilty.”
“I did not know not wanting to be killed was political,” tweeted another.
On Friday, Starbucks temporarily reversed course: in a post on the corporate website, the company said workers can wear some BLM gear until they receive one of the 250,000 company-designed T-shirts emblazoned with a tamer logo that includes the “Black Lives Matter” slogan tucked in among a dozen other slogans.
By late morning Friday, response on social media to Starbucks’ damage-control efforts were decidedly mixed.
“Now they wanna make BLM tshirts because their sales were declining,” suggested a Twitter critic. “@Starbucks you can miss me with that bull— #BoycottStarbucks.”
Read more here.
Black Lives Matter March of Silence to be held today in Seattle at 1 p.m.
A March of Silence will be held today, Friday, starting at 1 p.m. in Seattle's Judkins Park.
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County said the event is a Black-led event and is asking that participants respect the following march procession order:
Black Lives Matter leadership
Black community members
People of color
Elected and appointed officials, political candidates
Organizers are also asking participants to wear appropriate personal protection and maintain social distancing guidelines.
A smaller march will be held in West Seattle, with people asked to gather at Admiral Junction or Morgan Junction at 2 p.m. to march silently to The Junction.
Longshore union to commemorate Juneteenth
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will stop work for eight hours at West Coast ports — including Seattle and Tacoma — on June 19, the Juneteenth holiday commemorating Black Texans' years-late reception of the news that enslaved people were free.
In Seattle, longshore workers will march from Pier 46 to City Hall starting at 10 a.m. June 19.
The work stoppage is not a strike. The longshore union moved its monthly membership meeting, previously scheduled for June 11, to Juneteenth as permitted under the coastwide contract.
Shocked locals make public apology to Spokane family harassed in Forks
Ankur Shah has lived on the Olympic Peninsula all his life. What he saw on June 3 is not the community he knows.
Last week, a Spokane family camping near the town of Forks, Washington, was confronted by “seven or eight carloads of people” demanding to know if they were antifa protesters in a grocery store parking lot as they stopped to buy supplies. When they left for the campsite, several cars followed them. Fearing for their safety, the family tried to go home later that night – only to find trees cut down, blocking their way out.
The Spokane family was described as multiracial, consisting of a husband and wife, their 16-year-old daughter and the husband’s mother, according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office. Four Forks High School students cut through the trees, letting the family out.
Horrified and surprised at these events, Shah and some friends put together a letter apologizing to the family on behalf of Clallam County residents.
The letter gathered almost 200 signatures and has now been published in a more prominent way than Shah and his friends could have imagined. Forks' mayor and city council have spoken out, too.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
A statewide general strike is planned today, and Black Lives Matter Seattle - King County will lead a silent march from Judkins Park.
Seattle's new Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone has become a political flashpoint. Mayor Jenny Durkan rebuked Trump yesterday for his threat to "take back" the city as a feud over protests — and power — boiled over. Meantime, debate swirls over SPD’s decision to relinquish the area around its East Precinct to the protesters who have made it the CHAZ. The scene there last night was peaceful as poets and artists performed.
"It was my first protest ever for anything ... I cried." Meet some of the people who have been out in Seattle's streets for the protests sparked by George Floyd's death, and learn what changes they want to see.
A Tacoma woman is accused of torching five police vehicles during a Seattle protest on May 30. She was arrested yesterday.
A "slap in the face": Black community and political leaders are calling on President Donald Trump to change his plan for a campaign rally in Tulsa. It's scheduled for Juneteenth, the day that marks the end of slavery in America. And it's in Tulsa, which in 1921 was the site of a fiery white-on-Black attack. Meanwhile, some companies are honoring Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
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