More than 1,000 people gathered in downtown Seattle Thursday evening, decrying the deaths of two black men at the hands of police this week. During the protest, news of the fatal shooting of officers in Dallas spread, though the demonstration remained overall peaceful.
What you need to know:
- More than 1,000 people marched through downtown Seattle Thursday night, decrying the deaths of two black men at the hands of officers this week. About 50 people gathered in Olympia.
- In Minnesota, an officer fatally shot Philando Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb. A day earlier, Alton Sterling was shot and killed during a confrontation with two police officers outside a Baton Rouge, La., convenience store.
- Scores of people in cities across the country were protesting at the same time.
- Five officers were killed and more were injures during protests in Dallas Thursday night.
Update 10:15 p.m.:
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released the following statement in light of the shooting in Dallas. Earlier in the day, he hosted a press conference, reacting to the police shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.
“As I have said before, if we are to engage in a serious discussion about racism, we must recognize that the police are on the receiving end of the failure of so many systems to deal with racism; schools, mental health, foster care. As I have said before, the stigmatization of any group including police officers leads to violence.
“The death of police officers in Dallas is a tragedy for the officers, their families and all of us. It is only by building bridges between communities of color and the police that we can finally build the trust that will bring us together in our stand against racism. The men and women I have come to know in the Seattle Police Department are committed to that challenge. As Mayor I want our officers to know I am committed to their safety and again thank them for the service they provide to the people of Seattle.”
The group of protesters in downtown Seattle has shrunk to a few dozen. The demonstration is likely to end soon.
Update 9:40 p.m.:
After the fatal shooting in Dallas, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole said she has directed officers to work in pairs as much as possible.
The protest in downtown Seattle seems to be moving back to where it began hours ago at the Westlake Center.
And in Olympia, the demonstration is blocking an intersection outside City Hall. Protesters have set a couch in the intersection, and there’s lots of shouting between demonstrators and others on the street.
Update 9:30 p.m.:
The group of hundreds headed down Cherry Street after facing officers near the Interstate 5 ramp at Seventh Avenue in Seattle. Seattle police set off blast balls to clear a path for a medic van, a department official told The Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, about 50 people are marching in downtown Olympia.
Protesters are moving through downtown Seattle in a “relatively peaceful” manner.
Frustration over the fatal police shootings of black men in recent days is stirring in Seattle, as it is around the nation, inspiring a wave of impassioned messages online and a gathering downtown Thursday evening, to which hundreds of people are expected to attend.
“It will never stop being a dangerous world for black men to live in,” one tweet says, among many in a quick-running stream of local posts on the recent deaths of Philando Castile, 32, in Minnesota and Alton Sterling, 37, in Louisiana.
Hundreds of people have said via Facebook they planned to attend a vigil at Westlake Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday in the wake of the shootings to show elected officials here “that the citizens of this city and State will no longer tolerate country-wide the continued homicides by police officers without independent investigation and with indeterminate accountability,” the event’s page says.
Scores of people in cities across the country, such as New York City, are gathering Thursday, too, to put pressure on police departments to increase officer accountability for the use of force and seek answers in the recent deaths.
In Minnesota, an officer fatally shot Castile while he was in a car with a woman and a child Wednesday in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb. The woman, reportedly his girlfriend, captured the immediate aftermath in a Facebook Live video that, as of Thursday afternoon, garnered 4.3 million views.
A day earlier, Sterling was shot and killed during a confrontation with two police officers outside a Baton Rouge, La., convenience store. A video of that shooting also sparked national attention and protests, just like a series of recorded violent police encounters before it.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray held a press conference Thursday afternoon, at which he said all people of color are feeling pain, fear and anxiety. He said the shootings demonstrate why the city of Seattle “must get police reform right” while noting the need for stronger oversight of the department.
The mayor recently came under fire after he decided to not extend the appointment of the watchdog who heads the Seattle Police Department’s internal-investigation unit.
Community members here most recently questioned police actions in the death of Che Taylor, a black man who was fatally shot by white officers in the Wedgwood neighborhood of town in February. His family has called for a federal investigation of the shooting, and supporters are also pushing an initiative that would change state law to make it easier to prosecute police officers who kill in the line of duty.
“Call for mandatory body-cameras for all police officers. They’ve been proven to lower violence on both the police and public side of confrontations,” Seattle resident Michael Randall posted on the vigil event’s page.
After completing a pilot project last year, the Seattle Police Department is on track to join others nationwide that have fully adopted the small, battery-powered devices, a trend that accelerated after the Ferguson, Mo., officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown.
More than half of large municipal police departments in the country now are either using or procuring the technology, according to one Seattle company that makes the systems.
Another post on the vigil’s Facebook page says, “The violence is not new, it’s the cameras that are new.”
One person wrote of the Thursday evening gathering: “I would love to go but I’m also worried as a Black person about being shot by the police or attacked.”
Seattle Times staff reporters Joseph O’Sullivan, E.J. Smith III and Steve Miletich contributed to this report, which also includes information from Seattle Times archives and The Associated Press.