Following the original permitted and entirely peaceful #Blacklivesmatter protest that started at Garfield High school and ended with a sit-in outside the Seattle Police Department Headquarters, a breakaway protest formed and headed North through downtown Seattle. The march chanted, dodged SPD bike squads & cars, twice attempted to access the Alaskan Way viaduct, and conducted a almost entirely peaceful protest. Protesters were apprehended during the course of the march – SPD reported making seven arrests – and use of force was frequently employed via pepper spray, tackle take downs of protesters, shoving, and other forms of intimidation. This reporter witnessed no property damage or physical assault of police officers committed by protesters. Below are photos and video taken during this protest.
“Who is paying you guys to be here?” asks SPD officer guarding Alaskan Way viaduct off ramp. Crowd laughs.
Shortly after exiting Pike Place Market and heading north on Western Avenue, oen SPD officer pepper sprayed a protester on the sidewalk of , briefly spattering a legal observer (in the neon green hat). Note that the protester who was pepper sprayed was on the sidewalk.
At this point tensions were high between protesters & police, with SPD initially utilizing pepper spray and again stopping and attempting to arrest protesters as they neared an on-ramp to the Alaskan Way viaduct at Western & Bell street. I witnessed one protester deliver a kick to a SPD officer’s shin in response to a shove from said officer while trying to get around the march. One arrest was made during this incident.
SPD reported protesters throwing rocks at officers. This reporter witnessed no rock throwing.
“Property is more important to them than us”
Shortly after requesting crowd to disperse, SPD officers apprehended and presumably arrested a POC protester, who was also a mother of several minors in the crowd. In the video the son can be hearding shouting “get the fuck off my mom!” It is unclear to this reporter the reasoning behind her arrest. The SPD twitter feed does not mention this arrest at Blanchard street & 8th.
As the march approached the intersection of Denny Way & Fairview Avenue, SPD tackled protester leading the march with a bullhorn (featured above in pic), arrested him, and pushed the entire march onto the protest. Above is some of local journalist Casey Jaywork’s coverage.
March turned East on Denny Way, sticking to the sidewalk as commanded by SPD. SPD followed closely, weapons drawn and multiple vans & squad cars blocking entirety of street. Over loudspeaker SPD called for protesters to disperse for purposes of “public safety” and that they should “go home”.
March continued without incident up Denny onto Olive Way.
Protesters chanting on Denny.
SPD officers squirm as protester points out skewed funding priorities.
March ended peacefully with protesters briefly occupying the intersection of Broadway & Olive.
Discourse in the protest aftermath:
The Public Defender’s Association [PDA], a public defense firm in Seattle, is currently investigating SPD’s tactics used in response to protests. Slog reported a PDA staff attorney saying the firm would consider “litigation and other approaches to ensure that people raising issues of racial bias in the justice system have the same freedom to walk the streets and sidewalks and express their views as Seahawks fans after the Superbowl.”
Food for thought: a UC Berkeley study found that Police showing up in riot gear to public demonstrations escalates situations and fuels violent confrontations.