City leaders speak with crowd on 5th day of George Floyd protests in Seattle

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- City leaders, including Mayor Jenny Durkan, Police Chief Carmen Best and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, spoke with a crowd on the fifth day of protests in Seattle.

The organizers of the peaceful protest led the crowd to the location where the mayor was expected to hold a press conference. Mayor Durkan came out to address the crowd along with the police and fire chief.

Durkan addressed at least a few concerns that protesters had addressed, but also said further discussion would take place.

The mayor addressed the concerns from the public that Seattle police officers were covering their badge numbers to hide their identities. She explained that the bands were used to honor fallen officers in a long tradition. She said Tuesday that the department will find a way to honor the fallen and allow badge number to be visible at all times.

Durkan had previously said that their names should always be visible on outside clothing and that that should be enough to identify an officer.

She also said the department's body camera policy, which prohibits officers from recording lawful demonstrations, will be reviewed.

Chief Best said the city's curfew would continue each night from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. through Saturday, June 6.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday that while the damage from weekend protests that turned violent must be condemned and those responsible prosecuted, “we will not allow that to obscure the justice of the underlying protest.”

Inslee said that people are justifiably outraged following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and emphasized the constitutional right to protest. But he said that “violence and destruction has no place in this.”

“We just can’t allow violence to hijack peaceful protest,” Inslee said at a news conference.

Demonstrators in Washington and around the country have been protesting the killing of Floyd, a black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing. On Monday afternoon large crowds of protesters again gathered in downtown Seattle for speeches and to march through the city’s core. Hundreds gathered outside City Hall and the crowd continued to grow as it made its way to the Capitol Hill neighborhood. At one point, video showed officers taking a knee with protesters in Capitol Hill in a show of solidarity.

North of downtown, near the University Village shopping mall, police barricaded a grocery store’s windows after some people smashed them.

The Washington State Patrol also said it was closing Interstate 5 through downtown as a precaution. Over the weekend some protesters got on the freeway.

Seattle’s police watchdog, the Office of Professional Accountability, said it was investigating 10 alleged incidences of aggressive behavior by police following the weekend protests following thousands of individual complaints. These include reports of police pepper spraying a young girl and punching a person on the ground who was being arrested, OPA said.

Police Chief Carmen Best said a small number of protests “tore the city up” and caused “millions of dollars in damage.” Durkan said the damage was widespread Saturday, with 90 businesses in the city’s International District alone affected. Authorities said 57 people were arrested Saturday.

Inslee activated the National Guard following vandalism and mass theft in stores and shopping malls in multiple cities over the weekend, including Bellevue, Spokane, Tukwila and Renton.

“The guard are unarmed peacekeepers,” he said. “They are there to help support local communities.”

Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman for the National Guard, said that about 350 National Guard members are deployed in the state Monday, with about 20 in Spokane and the remainder in the King County metro areas.

On Monday, President Donald Trump told the nation’s governors in a video conference that they “look like fools” for not deploying even more National Guard troops. “Most of you are weak,” he said.

Inslee called the comments by the president the “rants of a very insecure man.”

Monday afternoon, Trump threatened to deploy the United States military to American cities to quell a rise of violent protests, and said he would mobilize “thousands and thousands” of soldiers to keep the peace if governors did not use the National Guard to shut down the protests.

In an emailed statement in response to the president’s comments, Inslee wrote that Trump “has repeatedly proven he is incapable of governing and shown nothing but false bravado throughout the chaos that has accompanied his time in office.”

“He cowers at the feet of authoritarians around the world,” Inslee said. “Now he uses the most supreme power of the presidency in a desperate attempt to hide his timidity and vapidity. I pray no soldier and no civilian is injured or killed by this reckless fit.”