(Natural News) What started as a peaceful march in downtown Seattle turned into an ugly and violent riot that resulted in extensive damage to businesses in the area earlier this week, authorities have reported.
According to the Seattle Police Department, a large crowd composed mainly of individuals purported to be members of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement were first spotted marching on Seattle’s Pike Street, where they protested Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for detaining illegal immigrants.
The gathering, which started at around 10 a.m., was peaceful at the start, as reported by the police.
The event turned ugly, however, once a second, more violent group joined the gathering.
Armed with baseball bats and paint, the second group, according to police and eyewitness accounts, began marching along Fifth Avenue, where they proceeded to break windows and tag buildings with paint.
The protesters vandalized the SPD headquarters, as well as the Seattle Municipal Court, before heading to the West Precinct, where they were soon thwarted by officers wielding pepper spray and blast balls.
The group, however, managed to lob rocks and fireworks at the police, which injured multiple officers.
“The protesters that were outside the West Precinct then lit what was described as mortar type fireworks and then threw these fireworks at officers from a very close range,” Sgt. Lauren Truscott of the Seattle Police said.
The group – which police described as being “organized” and bent on causing damage to both public and private property – eventually broke up at Cal Anderson Park.
“These are criminal acts, not peaceful protests,” the police said, noting that members of the militant organization Antifa were also seen riding around, armed, in cars and trucks that day.
A second wave of violence happened Wednesday, during which about 150 rioters walked through the Capitol Hill neighborhood, where they proceeded to break into storefronts and set fire to looted items.
“Your violence has nothing to do with protests about George Floyd”
Among the establishments damaged by the rioters and looters in downtown Seattle this week were several Starbucks locations, as well as an Amazon store. To note, Starbucks and Amazon have both made significant donations to the Black Lives Matter movement. Amazon, for its part, donated $10 million in its bid to match donations and support organizations focused on combating systemic racism.
Coffee chain Starbucks, meanwhile, designed Black Lives Matter shirts for its employees should they wish to wear one. This is on top of its $1 million donation to organizations that supposedly promote racial equity and social justice.
Aside from breaking into Amazon and Starbucks’ brick and mortar locations, the rioters also set their sights on several local businesses, including Seattle establishment Uncle Ike’s, which, in the aftermath of this week’s riots, had its windows broken and graffiti sprayed on its walls.
These actions, Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg said, are not hallmarks of genuine activist groups.
“I don’t think this had anything to do with protests about George Floyd or police brutality. This was just straight up anarchist kids having fun, no message whatsoever, high-fiving each other and laughing. They’re having a good time and nobody’s gonna stop them. The city’s doing nothing,” Eisenberg said in an interview with KTTH.
Trump to send federal troops to Seattle to quell growing violence
As a response to the recent spate of violence in the city, President Donald Trump is sending a tactical U.S. Customs and Border Protection team to Seattle. According to reports, the team is similar to the Border Patrol Tactical Unit the White House has deployed in Portland, Oregon.
According to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, President Trump’s decision came as a surprise to her, as Acting Secretary Chad Wolf of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had allegedly already assured her that the White House had no plans to deploy federal troops in her city.
Following my letter earlier this week, I spoke with Acting Secretary Wolf this afternoon – he told me directly that DHS has no plans – and sees no need – to send federal forces to Seattle. He committed to notifying Chief Best and myself should that change.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) July 24, 2020
DHS spokesman Alexei Woltornist, however, explained that the team will remain on standby for now and will only be deployed as needed.
In addition, Woltornist noted that the troops sent to Seattle will be much smaller compared to the one currently deployed in Portland and that any large-scale use of law enforcement assets will involve close coordination with local law enforcement.
“There is no large-scale deployment of personnel to Seattle at this time. As threats warrant, any large-scale use of law enforcement assets will involve close coordination with local law enforcement,” he added.
Mike Solan, Seattle Police Officers Guild president, in stark contrast to Mayor Durkan, has welcomed the deployment, noting in an interview with Seattle’s KIRO-TV that it was appropriate to seek help from the federal government. (Related: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan proposes SLASHING the Seattle Police Department’s budget by $20 million – tells police to expect deeper cuts in the future.)
“Why can’t we ask for federal help?” Solan said, noting that it is not the time for Durkan and the rest of Seattle’s leaders to “play the political game.”
“We had criminal domestic terrorists lay siege to our city for over three hours. When is enough, enough?” he added.