Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from demonstrations and other events on Monday, June 15, as the day unfolded.
It has been three weeks to the day 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 almost nine minutes. The protests over Floyd’s death, police tactics and systemic racism continue, not just in Washington state and the United States, but around the world.
On Sunday morning, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best appeared on “Face the Nation,” telling host Margaret Brennan about “an epiphany” she had at a Black Lives Matter march Friday from Beacon Hill to Jefferson Park: “We are going to move in a different direction and policing will never be the same as it was before.” Best received support that afternoon at a rally of Black church and community leaders in the Central District.
Last 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, calling it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) or the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). Best expressed a desire to return to the vacated East Precinct, but noted it was unclear when the occupation might end. Part of the challenge, she said, is identifying specific demands and clear leaders to negotiate with.
Along East Pine Street, between 10th Avenue East and 11th Avenue East, “BLACK LIVES MATTER” is painted in 19-foot block letters, each crafted by different artists, spelling out the cause that’s brought thousands of people to this protest. See the mural up close and learn how it all came together.
Throughout Monday, on this page, we’ll post updates from Seattle Times journalists and others on protests and the related movement in the Seattle area. Updates from Sunday 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.
CHOP protesters continue to occupy the area peacefully
Demonstrators continue to peacefully occupy the six-block area now known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), adding more signs, art and donations to the area every day.
Mezmur Asaminew said she visits CHOP, formerly called CHAZ, occasionally after work to take the scene in.
“It’s different. There have been so many protests, so many shootings and police killings, especially of Black people," she said earlier in the night. "This is different. The vibe, the people.”
In the short term, Asaminew said she wants to see police reform.
“I don’t think police are getting enough training,” Asaminew said, calling for more emphasis on de-escalation and communication. “It doesn’t always have to be police” who handle calls for people under the influence or in crisis.
In the long term, Asaminew said she hopes for criminal justice reform, economic reform to address poverty and more access to health care, including for mental health.
“People of color are most affected by injustice,” Asaminew said.
She added: “Implicit biases — I don’t think we can get rid of these issues, but let’s see some improvement. It has to be supported by laws and regulations. Protesting is not the end result. There has to be real change.”
The infrastructure within CHOP has grown since my last visit. pic.twitter.com/MT2cFOcwFR
— Evan Bush (@evanbush) June 16, 2020
Man is shot at protest over statue of New Mexico’s conquistador
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gunfire broke out during a protest Monday night in Albuquerque to demand the removal of a statue of Juan de Oñate, the despotic conquistador of New Mexico whose image has become the latest target in demonstrations across the country aimed at righting a history of racial injustice.
As dozens of people gathered around a statue of Oñate, New Mexico’s 16th-century colonial governor, shouting matches erupted over proposals to take it down and a man was shot, prompting police officers in riot gear to rush in.
The man, who was not identified, was taken away in an ambulance, and the police took into custody several members of a right-wing militia who were dressed in camouflage and carrying military-style rifles. It was not clear whether any of them had fired the shot, or whether they were merely being questioned.
The protest turned into pandemonium as protesters screamed and dove for cover and police officers attempted to secure the scene.
Protesters march from police West Precinct briefly onto I-5
The crowd of Seattle protesters gathered behind a line of barricades in front of the police department's West Precinct on Virginia Street for about half an hour, chanting and making speeches.
No officers were in sight as multiple speakers stepped forward, one by one, to share their reasons for protesting and experiences with police.
"I want to make this clear: This is a war," one speaker said. He later added, "I'm glad you're hurt. Because pain is a hell of a motivator."
Another speaker raised a fist above his head and explained what the gesture means.
"This represents the power of the people coming together," he said. "That is what this represents."
He told the crowd he plans to march to the West Precinct every day, and the group cheered in agreement.
Marchers left the precinct just after 9 p.m., and briefly walked onto Interstate 5 south near First Hill.
"Hands up, don't shoot," they yelled at stopped cars. A Washington State Patrol officer was seen driving up to the crowd and getting out of his car, according to a livestream of the march.
"I understand you're protesters.... But this is not safe," he said as he walked up to the group. "I don't want you to get hurt. I don't want anyone to get hurt."
By 9:20 p.m., the group was off the freeway and marching back toward Capitol Hill.
CHOP protesters headed toward Seattle Police Department's West Precinct
A group of Seattle demonstrators has left the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) and is headed toward the police department's West Precinct in Belltown, according to multiple livestreams.
As the protesters walked across the CHOP's new "Black Lives Matter" street mural around 8:15 p.m., they chanted, "No justice, no peace."
The group marched through Capitol Hill in silence for several minutes before continuing their chants.
Follow the march online here.
Trader Joe’s says it will reopen Capitol Hill store and pay workers after controversy around BLM protest
Three days after Trader Joe’s announced it was closing its Capitol Hill store “indefinitely” after staff took time off for Friday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration, the company said the location will reopen after a one- to two-week remodel and that staff will be paid in the meantime.
Monday’s announcement follows accusations by some employees that Trader Joe’s abruptly shuttered the store, on East Madison Street and 17th Avenue, partly in retaliation against workers who had asked for time off to join the protest.
On Monday, Kenya Friend-Daniel, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, declined to comment on details relating to the Black Lives Matter protest or the workers’ demands, but said Friday’s “unexpected closure” had been necessary “because we did not have enough Crew Members available to run the store.”
Friend-Daniel said the Monrovia, California-based company hopes to reopen the Capitol Hill location “in a week or two,” and will use the closure for “a remodel plan to address safety and security concerns that have developed over the last year.”
Police calls near East Precinct fall 31% since start of June
Emergency calls to the Seattle Police Department from Capitol Hill and the Central District have plummeted since the start of June, when protests over police brutality against people of color led the department to abandon its East Precinct on 12th Avenue and Pine Street, now the heart of the roughly five blocks called the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).
In the first five months of the year, the East Precinct fielded an average of 102 emergency calls per day, according to a Seattle Times analysis of SPD's call data. Between June 1 and June 12, that number fell to an average of 70 calls per day. The analysis did not include "onview" calls made by a police officer observing a potential crime in progress because the police department has said it will act with caution when entering the CHOP zone, Police Chief Carmen Best said in a news conference Monday.
The decline will likely add fuel to protesters' arguments for cutting the police budget.
The data debunk unfounded claims repeated in conservative media outlets, including The National Review, The Washington Examiner and Fox News, that police calls have tripled. Those reports seem to have been based on a single June 11 clip of Best, broadcast by KOMO 4 News, in which the police chief said, "Our calls for service have more than tripled." The clip was retweeted by conservative blogger Andy Ngo, then picked up by other outlets.
In other forums, Best has repeatedly stated that response times to 911 calls in the East Precinct have tripled — not the calls themselves. KOMO, which used the clip in a story about an uptick in police response times, did not immediately respond to questions. SPD did not immediately respond to questions about Best's statement to KOMO.
In Monday's news conference, Best reiterated that police response times throughout the East Precinct have tripled, from five minutes to roughly 18.
“It’s taking three times longer to get there,” she said. “We can’t continue in that vein. It’s really untenable.”
‘No cop-free zone’: Police chief says officers are responding to CHOP with caution
Videos posted to social media early Monday show a group of protesters toppling a chain-link fence outside an auto repair shop in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, after the business owner reportedly called 911 repeatedly to report a break-in and fire but no police officers responded to the scene.
A message left for John McDermott, the owner of Car Tenders in the 1700 block of 12th Avenue, was not immediately returned Monday. The location of the shop, between East Olive and East Howell streets, appears to be just outside the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest(CHOP), previously known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, centered around the Seattle Police Department’s now-closed East Precinct on the corner of 12th Avenue and Pine Street.
KIRO 7 TV reported that McDermott called 911 to report the break-in and that he and his son detained a suspect, who stole money and keys, and set a fire on the front counter that McDermott and his son quickly doused. According to the TV station, McDermott called 911 more than a dozen times and said police never showed up and armed protesters insisted they release the suspect, which they did to avoid potential violence.
George Floyd vigil underway in South Seattle
In Columbia City on Monday evening, drivers blasted a cacophony of horns as dozens of demonstrators held signs saying “Black Lives Matter,” “Honk for Black Lives” and “Honk for Equality.”
The neighborhood is holding streetside demonstrations for George Floyd and in support of police accountability every Monday in June.
“It’s been very powerful and great to see (the) energy and support for Black Lives Matter,” said Naomi Ashford, cousin to Charleena Lyles, a Seattle woman fatally shot in 2017 by Seattle police.
Ashford, who held a sign bearing her cousin's name and also that of others killed by police, said it was “great to see people are saying her name and keeping her name alive.”
Doreen McGrath, another demonstrator, said she wants an elected civilian review board over police that's independent of city power structures and with “authority to fire any bad cops.”
“It’s very important for us to fight for lasting change, not just a few crumbs," McGrath said.
The event was organized by a group called the South Seattle Action for Justice.
"George Floyd was murdered by police officers," event organizers wrote on Facebook. "We gather for a neighborhood vigil in honor of his life and the (many) others lost to police violence and specific and systemic racism.... Together in peace and safety we will stand for justice for George Floyd and all the victims of racial violence."
It’s been a cacophony of horns since about 6 p.m. as dozens raise signs. pic.twitter.com/clKvgC8eCU
— Evan Bush (@evanbush) June 16, 2020
Out at the George Floyd vigil on Rainier Ave in Columbia City, a couple miles north of where I went to high school at Rainier Beach. pic.twitter.com/iGygnOeOSf
— Scott Hanson (@shansonSeaTimes) June 16, 2020
Take a virtual tour of what artists did to beautify Seattle’s Chinatown International District
Artists and community members gathered Sunday afternoon and last week in the Chinatown International District to paint murals in support of the Black Lives Matter movement on plywood at businesses that had been boarded up because of the coronavirus.
Seattle artist Mari Shibuya, above, painted a portrait of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was killed when she was shot at least eight times in her apartment by Louisville, Kentucky, police in March.
Vehicles striking protesters raise disturbing echoes of 2017 Charlottesville attack
Emily Bloom said she barely had time to dive to safety before a gray Kia with its engine revving was driven through the intersection where she had stood moments earlier in downtown Gainesville, Fla., protesting police brutality.
While marching with fellow protesters in the Richmond, Va., suburb of Lakeside, Rachel Kurtz said she, her husband and her 11-year-old son had to leap to the sidewalk and out of the path of a blue pickup truck.
In the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Dan Gregory fell to the ground, shot in the shoulder, after he said he attempted to stop a black Honda Civic headed toward a group of protesters. And in front of the Bakersfield Police Department in California, Lexi Colebrook said she watched in horror as an SUV hit her friend, who managed to stumble toward the sidewalk and escape serious injury.
The incidents are among at least 19 cases in the past few weeks in which witnesses or police say civilian vehicles were driven through massive demonstrations after the May 25 death of George Floyd, who was handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer for nearly nine minutes.
In at least eight of the events, a driver faces charges for what prosecutors described as a deliberate act, according to arrest and court filings. And they echo the 2017 vehicle attack at a white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., that killed Heather Heyer, a counterprotester. And they occur amid a resurgence of internet memes featuring messages such as “All lives splatter” and “Run them over” and pictures of bloodied trucks.
Read the full story here.
American Muslims join to demand police reforms, back Black-led groups
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody, dozens of American Muslim organizations have come together to call for reform to policing practices, and to support black-led organizations.
“The victimization of unarmed Black Muslims has a long and troubling history,” said a coalition statement signed by more than 90 civil rights, advocacy, community and faith organizations. “As American Muslims, we will draw on our diversity, our strength, and our resilience to demand these reforms because Black lives matter.”
Proposed changes include prohibiting racial profiling and maneuvers that restrict the flow of blood or oxygen to the brain, such as choke holds; making it legally easier for prosecutors to hold law enforcement accountable; and redirecting police funding “into community health, education, employment and housing programs.”
The statement also calls for establishing “a federal standard that use of force be reserved as a last resort, only when absolutely necessary” and after exhausting all reasonable options.
Read more here.
In Seattle, a giant question: 'What do we want our police to do?'
Protesters are demanding that Seattle cut its police budget in half. But how would the city handle many of the services the police provide now? It's crucial to have a frank discussion about the role police should play, academics and officials say.
It's also important to understand how we got here, with Seattle's police budget swelling by more than $100 million over the past five years. As Police Chief Carmen Best talks about how policing must change radically, and community leaders discuss what that should look like, some changes are already underway.
Columnist Naomi Ishisaka writes that tinkering isn't enough: Our region's police need deep transformation.
Catch up on the past 24 hours
Capitol Hill's protest zone is evolving, and artists have made their mark on its giant street mural. The community in this stretch of six Capitol Hill blocks — known first as CHAZ, now as CHOP — is trying to create its own narrative amid much swirl (which included Fox News apologizing after publishing digitally altered and misleading photos of the zone). The brother of a man killed by Seattle police marveled at what he found in this place: "To see this, I am honored."
In Seattle's Chinatown-International District on Sunday, artists and community members — including an art club from Franklin High School — gathered to paint murals on plywood at businesses. The Franklin students' contribution included a portrait of Marsha P. Johnson, a leader behind the 1969 Stonewall uprising, in a nod to both Black Lives Matter and Pride month.
An art club from Franklin High School is painting this empty storefront with a mural honoring Black trans lives.
They're doing portraits of Marsha P. Johnson, a leader behind the 1969 Stonewall uprising, and Ada A. Connere, a prominent Seattle drag queen. pic.twitter.com/9amgA4SIXZ
— David Gutman (@davidlgutman) June 14, 2020
Aubreanna Inda staggered as a flash-bang grenade hit her in the chest, then she collapsed. Inda, 26, faced the possibility of "life-threatening deterioration," medical records say. She's telling the story of what happened that night a week ago on a Seattle street. (Here's what flash-bangs are and how they work.)
Atlanta police have fired the officer who shot a Black man outside a Wendy's on Friday. The killing of Rayshard Brooks sparked a fresh wave of outrage and fiery protests, and led to the resignation of Atlanta's police chief.
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