Police declare riot over Seattle protests, make arrests

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SEATTLE – Seattle police retreated to a neighborhood early Sunday, just hours after rioting during large protests in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, near where people had been standing weeks earlier. set up an “occupied protest zone” that spanned several blocks. Some protesters lingered after officers showed up in the eastern part of the department around 1 a.m., but most were evacuated soon after, according to a video posted online.

Authorities said stones, bottles, fireworks and mortars were thrown at officers as they attempted to clear the area using flash bongs and pepper spray for several hours, up to ‘to Saturday evening.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best called for peace at a late night press conference and told reporters she had not seen any U.S. agents the Trump administration had sent to the city during the demonstration on Saturday.

On Twitter, police said they arrested at least 45 people for assaulting police, obstruction and inability to disperse. Twenty-one officers were left mostly with minor injuries.

Earlier, protesters in Seattle walked through a fence where a youth detention center was being built, with some people setting a portable trailer on fire and damaging it, authorities said.

Thousands of protesters initially gathered peacefully near downtown in solidarity with other protesters in Portland, Oregon, where tensions with federal law enforcement escalated during related protests to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Initially, there was no sign of law enforcement near the Seattle March. Later, Seattle Police said via Twitter that a dozen people breached the construction site of the King County Youth Detention Center. In addition, police said protesters smashed windows in a King County court.

Earlier this week, King County Executive Dow Constantine, in response to long-standing demands from community activists, said he would work to eliminate the county’s youth detention centers by 2025.

After the fire at the construction site, authorities said they ordered people to leave a different area, in a section of Capitol Hill, near downtown, where the East Quarter is located. At least one person stepped through a fence in the compound, authorities said, and moments later an explosive device left an 8-inch (20-centimeter) hole in the side of the compound.

Earlier this month, police cleared the ‘Capitol Hill occupied protest’ area after two fatal shootings. One group had occupied several blocks around a park for about two weeks following the clashes and clashes that were part of the nationwide unrest following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Ahead of Saturday’s protests, Best had said officers would be armed with pepper spray and other weapons, vowing not to use tear gas and urging protesters to remain peaceful.

“In a spirit of trust and full transparency, I would like to inform you that SPD agents will carry pepper spray and explosion-proof bullets today, as would be typical for events likely to include violence,” Best said.

In an emergency hearing Friday night, U.S. District Judge James Robart granted a federal request to block Seattle’s new law prohibiting police from using pepper spray, explosive bullets, and similar weapons .

The temporary restraining order ends the law that Seattle City Council passed unanimously last month after clashes that have been largely peaceful but have at times been marked by violence, looting and highway closures. The law intended to defuse tensions between police and protesters was due to come into force on Sunday.

But the US Department of Justice, citing the long-standing Seattle Police Consent Order, successfully argued that banning the use of crowd control weapons could actually lead to increased use of force by the police, leaving them only more lethal weapons.

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