Editor’s note: This is a live account of updates from demonstrations and other events on Sunday, June 14, as the day unfolded.
It’s 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.
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 Occupied Protest (CHOP).
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 was recently completed, with artists crafting their own work within each letter to express what the moment meant to them. See their work up close and learn how it all came together.
Throughout Sunday, 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 Saturday 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.
Downtown Seattle marchers head back toward Capitol Hill
Downtown Seattle protesters chanted and made speeches outside the Police Department's West Precinct for about an hour before heading back toward the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).
"It is not CHAZ, it is CHOP," one speaker said outside the precinct. "Has anybody here ever heard of the French Revolution before? That is another revolution (that happened) because people started putting property over lives. They started putting money over people. Does anybody here know what happened to the people who did not get on board with the French Revolution?"
"CHOPPED," the crowd responded.
"That is the message we need to send," the speaker said.
One of the leaders of the group suggested returning to the West Precinct every day at 6:30 p.m.
As the demonstrators walked back toward Capitol Hill, they chanted, "No justice, no peace. No racist police."
Another protest group marches to Seattle Police Department's West Precinct
Another group of protesters, who marched from the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area — formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) — has arrived at the Seattle Police Department's West Precinct, according to a livestream of the march.
As they walked up to the front of the building, demonstrators chanted, "Defund SPD!"
A line of metal barricades was set up on Virginia Street, blocking demonstrators from walking up to the front of the building. As they gathered outside, police officers who were standing in the lobby could be seen filing into a different room, one that was out of view from the sidewalk.
"As we are on their territory, be very, very careful," one protester shouted to the crowd.
A different group of Black Lives Matter protesters marched from Westlake Park to the West Precinct earlier in the evening.
Meanwhile, those still in CHOP are listening to speeches and live music outside the Police Department's East Precinct.
Prosecutors contemplate charges against officer for Rayshard Brooks' killing in Atlanta
Atlanta's top prosecutor said his office will decide this week whether to bring charges against the police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks, a black man whose killing outside a Wendy's on Friday sparked a fresh wave of protests against police violence in the Southern city and added fuel to nationwide anger over racial injustice.
Family members on Sunday recalled Brooks as a good father who was getting his life back together when he was shot and killed in a confrontation with Garrett Rolfe and another Atlanta police officer after a DUI stop.
Public outrage mounted across the country over the weekend, as demonstrators in New York, Los Angeles and other cities and towns took to the streets for the latest in a wave of protests prompted by last month's killing of another black man, George Floyd, in the custody of Minneapolis police.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office determined Sunday that Brooks suffered organ damage and blood loss from two gunshot wounds, and that his official cause of death was "gunshot wounds of the back."
Black Lives Matter group leads march to Seattle Police Department's West Precinct
Hundreds gathered at Westlake Park around 6 p.m. for a Black Lives Matter march, demanding an end to racism and that police be held accountable for violence against Black people.
After hearing from a few speakers, the group marched toward the Seattle police West Precinct on Virginia Street, circling the building and chanting “hey hey, ho ho, these racist cops have got to go.”
Elijah Moyo, 36, said he showed up to the march "to keep the pressure on and make sure society keeps this (issue) front and center."
“We want to be pushing for larger change, not just one or two laws,” Moyo said. "There should be more collaboration between communities and policing."
Al Hull, an Everett resident, also joined the downtown march.
“I’m sick and tired of seeing my people killed," Hull said. "I’m from Mississippi, I come from racism. This is the first time in my life I’ve seen a movement like this, all races together. I think that’s pretty cool.”
— Ramon Dompor (@ramondompor) June 15, 2020
Lisa G. drove up from Renton, for her first Seattle protest.
"I'm a Black mom raising two Black boys," she said. "I don't want my children to become Tamir Rice."
Says she won't let them play with toy guns. https://t.co/k4LVcoT79p
— David Gutman (@davidlgutman) June 15, 2020
— Elise Takahama (@elisetakahama) June 15, 2020
Talks continue over Capitol Hill protest zone
Inside the area around 12th Avenue and Pine Street — known first as CHAZ, for Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, then re-dubbed CHOP, for Capitol Hill Organized Protest — Fire Chief Harold Scoggins led talks Sunday to try to work out how the footprint of the area might be reduced and partially opened up to normal traffic and commercial access while maintaining the protest.
Scoggins was accompanied by Mami Hara, general manager of Seattle Public Utilities, and Sam Zimbabwe, director of the city Department of Transportation.
They had an earnest discussion with a small group of protesters and locals affected by the protest that was livestreamed by Converge Media.
The protesters included Marcus Henderson, who leads the gardening project at Cal Anderson Park, and a man named Cove representing the "CHOP security team."
Real estate developer Ron Amundson represented property owners in the area and Carmen O'Toole, a tech consultant and writer, represented small local businesses.
Sitting on a long sofa alongside the protesters, Amundson called for an opening of the area to normal business and traffic.
He said some business owners want to open but are afraid to do so and that some property owners are afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation. He said eight residents had moved out that day from the building where the meeting took place.
"My hope is we can get back to normal," he said. "Not to ignore the (Black Lives Matter) issues. We know things have to change."
O'Toole said the road barriers are blocking deliveries to restaurants and garbage pickup.
"We need to make it so the community doesn't die," she said.
Zimbabwe handed out maps presenting a couple of options for shrinking and rearranging the footprint of the protest area with various barriers positioned to allow either pedestrian-only or vehicle access.
"This is a way to open up enough to preserve a protest area and to be able to discuss how to make that separation between street and protest area," he said.
Scoggins explained that the idea was to explore "how do we serve the business owners, how do we serve the residents (of the enclosed area), while making sure all of you are in a safe place?"
Although at one point Henderson rejected the notion of "economic justice for white business owners" taking precedence over justice for Black people, nevertheless the protesters' response was generally favorable.
Cove, of the CHOP security team, said he didn't look on the proposal as giving up space.
"I look on it as a smarter and safer way to keep this going," he said. "If the perimeter was slightly smaller, it would be a lot easier to control."
He added that with the city offering barriers and other infrastructure to reshape the area in this fashion, "We should really take it."
The meeting ended with the protesters saying they would assess the options and continue talks with Scoggins.
Gay City executive director says people from CHOP helped protect the nonprofit after vandalism
The front window of Gay City, an LGBTQ center on Capitol Hill, had its front entrance vandalized sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning, the center's executive director wrote on Facebook on Sunday evening. The glass on the front door was shattered, and the nonprofit was wide open.
What happened afterward is noteworthy, especially because the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) is getting nationwide attention, including from President Trump, who tweeted last Thursday that the "ugly Anarchists must be stooped IMMEDIATELY."
Not long after the glass was broken, Gay City executive director Fred Swanson wrote, he got a call from a passerby who told him, "I didn’t feel comfortable calling the police but I wanted to alert you.” The building's landlord got a call from the cafe across the street. At some point, people at CHOP were notified that the Gay City entryway had been damaged.
"You know, 'the anarchists' that you're reading about?" Swanson wrote. "They’re a few blocks away and sent support, including from a sentinel to watch our space while our landlord called for a company to put up plywood. We cleaned up the glass together and the sentinel from CHOP stayed until the plywood arrived."
Swanson wrote that he didn't know who broke the glass, but suspects it was someone who sleeps in the entryway often: "I suspect untreated mental health needs and unaddressed addiction played a role. I suspect not having a place to be housed played a role."
Wrote Swanson: "This is community, folks. This is how we look out for one another. It's also why we need to invest in human services. Because locking the guy up who did this — if he’s identified and caught — won’t solve the human needs that precipitated his breaking the glass or the interaction that escalated him.
"And while the door can be quickly repaired, the supports he and so many others of us need will take a shifting of resources and humanity on a major scale."
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay urges protesters to stay focused
At a planned gathering for Eritrean and Ethiopian youth in Cal Anderson Park — part of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) — on Sunday afternoon, King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay urged protesters to stay focused on their objectives.
"The point here is to uplift Black voices and abolish the systems that are harming Black people," he said. He went to say that he stands with the Black organizers who are calling to defund the police and to establish a new system of public safety rooted in community-based solutions and economic justice.
Zahilay was the last of several speakers before several hundred protesters began a march to Volunteer Park.
Black church leaders voice support for Chief Best
At the Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church in the Central District on Sunday afternoon, a large contingent of Black church and community leaders gave speeches voicing their passionate support for Seattle police Chief Carmen Best and rejecting calls for her resignation.
Rev. Kenneth Ransfer Sr., pastor at Greater Mt. Baker Baptist Church, led a sustained chant of “Chief Best, You are the best!”
After multiple speeches of unqualified support, Best joined the Black religious and community leaders on stage and received a long standing ovation.
Goodwill Pastor Garry Tyson recalled how the decision to move the police out of the East Precinct building was made by city officials "over the Chief's head." And Victoria Beach, chair of the African American Community Advisory Council for the Seattle Police Department said when she visited the abandoned East Precinct with Best last week, they were booed by protesters.
The senior Black leaders portrayed these slights against Best as slights against the Black community.
"We were booed by mainly white people trying to silence us. They cannot and will not keep us silent," said Beach. "I love her. I am going to back her to the end."
Tyson said, "We want our chief to know we have her back."
Andrè Taylor, whose brother Che Taylor was killed by Seattle police in 2016, called Best a friend, then added: "I don't let folks just get away with messing with my friends and family."
Best spoke briefly in response to the show of support, reiterating how when she watched Friday's silent protest march she got the message "loud and clear." She repeated what she’d said on CBS’s "Face the Nation" in the morning: This is a pivotal moment in history that will transform policing.
"I hear the community," she said. "I hear those demanding change."
Best said the change that's needed goes beyond the word "reform."
And she said that though she commands many "wonderful officers working hard to make a difference ... those who aren't, let's find a way to move those out of the system."
See the Black Lives Matter street mural from overhead
— Ken Lambert (@SeaTimesFotoKen) June 15, 2020
Artists paint murals in Chinatown-International District
Artists and community members gathered Sunday afternoon 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.
An art club from Franklin High School was painting boards at an empty storefront with a mural honoring Black trans lives, with portraits of Marsha P. Johnson, a leader behind the 1969 Stonewall uprising, and Ade A Connere, a prominent Seattle drag queen.
"We wanted to highlight people not as recognized in the Black Lives Matter and Pride movements," said Alexandra Lawson-Mangum, a Franklin junior. "When you think of Stonewall you don't really think of the people of color behind the scenes."
— David Gutman (@davidlgutman) June 14, 2020
In the Chinatown-International District today (with @davidlgutman), where artists and community members are painting murals to show their support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. pic.twitter.com/e9KaOqlvki
— Elise Takahama (@elisetakahama) June 14, 2020
Marchers in West Seattle call for racial justice
Two marches in support of racial justice occurred in West Seattle on Sunday, the West Seattle Blog reported. In the morning, a group marched through the Pigeon Point neighborhood. In the afternoon, a large group was marching from the Walt Hundley Playfield through the Delridge neighborhood.
March begins pic.twitter.com/Y1S859An4p
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) June 14, 2020
SPD Chief Carmen Best's 'epiphany'
As the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone continues to garner national media interest, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best appeared on "Face the Nation" Sunday morning to discuss the occupied area (formerly known as the CHAZ) and the future of policing.
While Best declined to weigh in on specific reforms, she described having an "epiphany" during last Friday's Black Lives Matter march, which drew tens of thousands of protesters.
"I was looking at the 60,000 people that were there, signs saying, you know, 'defund the police,' 'stop police brutality,' you know, 'no qualified immunity.' And there were thousands of people carrying those particular signs," Best said, according to a transcript. "And I just realized it was a moment, an epiphany, that this is a pivotal moment in history. We are going to move in a different direction and policing will never be the same as it was before."
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.
"My concern as a police chief, besides that I want to be back in our precinct doing the work, is that we don't want to -- we don't want anyone there to be harmed," Best said. "We don't want this to be something that devolves into a force situation."
Best acknowledged that protesters in the CHOP have been peaceful, "for the time being." Watch video of Best's conversation with "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan below.
Seattle musicians organize Capitol Hill sit-in Sunday
Seattle hard rockers King Youngblood are staging a musical and educational sit-in Sunday afternoon in the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone, previously referred to as the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone).
The event, slated to run 3:30-8:30 p.m. at 12th Avenue and East Pine Street outside of the East Precinct, will feature a number of BIPOC speakers and performers, including bright young voices from Seattle's music scene. Organizers say the goal is to remind people to stay focused on the movement's objectives, as the occupied zone has become somewhat of a tourist attraction.
"As a second-generation black activist/musician in Seattle, my biggest concern is folx need to stay focused," frontman Cameron Lavi-Jones said in a news release. "It's ridiculous that Fox News has the audacity to claim the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone is a violent place when in fact it is so peaceful there that we need to actually wake folks up and remind them why were are actually protesting."
Beyond grunge disciples King Youngblood, performers include Black Ends' Nicolle Swims, Beverly Crusher, Bearaxe's powerhouse frontwoman Shaina Shepherd, Dark Smith's Danny Denial, R&B singer/producer Talaya, rising hip-hop artists Kateel and Brandon Marsalis, and more. Elijah Lewis of community group Africatown and Prism Washington's Riall Johnson will also participate.
Between indigenous drumming and nightly performances from the Marshall Law Band, music has had a regular presence in the CHOP.
Dubbed a 'lawless state' by some, the CHAZ or CHOP writes its own story
Just after noon on Saturday, a part of Cal Anderson Park that has been repurposed into a combination campground, community garden and union hall was abuzz with purposeful activity. Dozens of people with rakes and wheelbarrows spread top soil and chicken manure in newly planted gardens.
Others gathered in small groups to discuss plans for no-till farming and fundraising for medical supplies. Another topic: How to cope with the growing number of onlookers who seem to regard what is known variously as CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) or CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest), among other titles, as the city's newest tourist attraction.
"It's voyeurism," said a silver-hair woman named Gabriella, a self-described "camp mom" who sometimes has to ask visitors not to take pictures of people in their tents.
Such concerns are a far cry from the ominous agenda that much of the outside world seems to have assigned this six-block experiment in alternative community that is emerging in the heart of Capitol Hill and the center of the national debate over police reform.
Read the full story here.
Atlanta officer fired after fatal shooting of a Black man
ATLANTA (AP) — An Atlanta police officer was fired following the fatal shooting of a Black man and another officer was placed on administrative duty, the police department announced early Sunday.
The moves follows the Saturday resignation of Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, who stepped down as the Friday night killing of Rayshard Brooks, 27, sparked a new wave of protests in Atlanta. The city had already been rocked by turbulent demonstrations following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
The terminated officer was identified as Garrett Rolfe, who was hired in October 2013, and the officer placed on administrative duty is Devin Brosnan, who was hired in September 2018, according to a release from police spokesperson Sgt. John Chafee.
The police department also released body camera and dash camera footage from both officers.
More than 40 minutes elapses between the time Brosnan first knocks on Brooks' car door while he's in Wendy's drive-thru and when gunshots ring out; Rolfe arrives on scene about 16 minutes in. The shooting is audible in footage from Rolfe's dash camera and both officers' body cameras, but wasn't captured on any of the four recordings provided by police. Both body cameras fall off during the struggle that ensues when Rolfe moves to handcuff Brooks after speaking to him for about 20 minutes, although Brooks is briefly glimpsed being Tased before he's shot.
Protesters on Saturday night set fire to the Wendy’s restaurant where Brooks was fatally shot the night before and blocked traffic on a nearby highway. The fire was out by 11:30 p.m., but video from local news stations showed it again aflame around 4 a.m. Sunday. Atlanta police said 36 people were arrested at protests as of midnight.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the police chief's resignation at a Saturday afternoon news conference, and had called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire.
Read the full story here.
Minneapolis police officers resign
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — At least seven Minneapolis police officers have quit and another seven are in the process of resigning, citing a lack of support from department and city leaders as protests over George Floyd’s death escalated.
Current and former officers told The Minneapolis Star Tribune that officers are upset with Mayor Jacob Frey’s decision to abandon the Third Precinct station during the protests. Demonstrators set the building on fire after officers left.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department this month and the FBI is investigating whether police willfully deprived Floyd of his civil rights.
The department has faced decades of allegations of brutality and other discrimination against African Americans and other minorities. A majority of City Council members support dismantling or defunding the department.
“(Officers) don’t feel appreciated,” said Mylan Masson, a retired Minneapolis officer and use-of-force expert. “Everybody hates the police right now. I mean everybody.”
What would it look like to defund or dismantle police?
Something has changed in the conversation around police reform amid the protests that have gripped Seattle and the nation for weeks. “Reform” hardly seems the word for it anymore. The revulsion around George Floyd’s killing is so strong, the loss of confidence in police so widespread, especially in their ability to root out violent racism, that many protesters are calling for police to be defunded, dismantled or abolished altogether.
This is not a fringe conversation. In Minneapolis, where an officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, the City Council pledged last week to dismantle the Police Department. Floyd’s killing came, notably, after years of police reform in Minneapolis that led to implicit-bias training, a new emphasis on community policing and a policy requiring officers to intervene if they see misconduct.
If some people are saying it’s time to upend the whole system, what does that mean? Literally getting rid of all law enforcement officers? What would an alternative system look like? Who, exactly, would come at 4 in the morning when murder, rape, robbery or domestic violence is in progress?
The answers vary and, to a large extent, are yet to be determined. Locally as well as nationally, there are many leaders of this movement and their ideas are coalescing.
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