'The silence is deafening': Downtown Seattle business owners speak out after another destructive protest

Clean up was underway for several buildings that were damaged and vandalized Wednesday night in downtown Seattle during a protest that turned destructive. 

One of the buildings hit hard is a historic landmark for the city that helps the entire local economy.

A tourist favorite was left covered in shattered glass. The damage done to the iconic Starbucks at Pike Place Market was the final blow dealt during an overnight protest.

The demonstration, according to fliers, was aimed at ICE and President Biden. It was rowdy early on, with protesters burning a large American flag in the middle of the street before damaging an Amazon Go and a federal courthouse.

"We need to come together as a city and marginalize these extremists," said Jon Scholes, president of the Downtown Seattle Association. 

Scholes said what happened last night is unacceptable, yet predictable.

"This isn't about democracy or exchange of ideas or trying to make our city better. They’re bent on destroying it," says Scholes.

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There have been many cases of protest-related vandalism and destruction in downtown since the summer. Scholes said it’s crushing to local businesses suffer during what is already a massive economic crisis.

"I think many feel abandoned by those in city government who don't speak out against this..the silence in some ways is deafening," Scholes said. 

Natalia Wittke, owner of Sell Your Sole Consignment, said it doesn’t matter if the businesses damaged last night are big corporations or small employers; it affects everyone.

"It affects all of our morale; it affects how we feel about the city, how we feel protected in the city," Wittke said. 

She said she loves working in Seattle. Her business is still thriving. But she’s incredibly frustrated with the state of downtown.

"Everyone has the right to protest and we should always protect that right it’s so important to speak our hearts and our minds," said Wittke.

But she sees no logic in the destruction of property.

Damage to iconic Starbucks in Pike Place Market

"It doesn’t seem to make any sense because it cancels  out all of their good intentions and just leaves this dread for everyone else to clean up, so they lose, we lose. There are no winners," Wittke said. 

Police said an officer and a citizen journalist were assaulted in the crowd. When a 33-year-old man was arrested for breaking into Starbucks, he allegedly told police he did it to gain the trust of the group.

Wittke’s shop is just a block away. She said she’s gone to City Hall numerous times in recent months to speak with the City Council, "begging and pleading with them in order to give us support in order to give us more police presence down here."

The Downtown Business Association said there have been 160 recent permanent closures to brick-and-mortar businesses in the downtown area.

Wittke said she has no plans of leaving, but officials need to do better.

"We need to ask city leaders to give us the protection that we deserve as taxpayers and citizens, the city needs to be safe, the city needs to be clean."

A suspect was in court today in connection to the destruction and break-in at the original Starbucks. Prosecutors say they requested he be held on $5,000 bond, but the judge denied that and released him without bail. Other arrests and incidents are still being investigated.

In a statement sent to us from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office, a spokesman said she’s consistently denounced individuals targeting small businesses and government facilities.

The statement says SPD has done the appropriate thing by arresting anyone engaging in destructive acts. Her office says Mayor Durkan and Seattle Police held meetings last week with many of the small businesses that’ve been impacted by property destruction.