National Guard arrives in Bellevue, looting cleanup begins across King County

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Dozens of National Guard troops arrived in Bellevue Monday morning and marched toward Bellevue Square mall, where looters ransacked stores and stole countless items a day before.

Bellevue Mayor Lynne Robinson declared a civil emergency for the city Sunday afternoon after "known gang members" interrupted peaceful demonstrations and assaulted police officers and bystanders before the widespread looting began.

Gov. Jay Inslee initially sent in 200 National Guard troops as requested by Bellevue and King County, but later activated the National Guard statewide after protests continued to turn violent in several cities.

"They were not there to protest the tragic death of George Floyd. They were there to destroy," Bellevue Police Chief Mylett said. "We welcome peaceful protesting. We want citizens to exercise their rights. I didn’t even hear George Floyd’s name."

Despite the curfew that started at 5:30 pm in Bellevue, the city's police chief joined peaceful protesters on the street and knelt with them in solidarity.

A few hours after the chaos erupted in Bellevue, police in Tukwila had to stop looters from getting inside Southcenter Mall to do the same thing. The looters in Tukwila moved from the Southcenter Mall to the shopping center across the street, breaking windows and stealing more stuff.

Police say it was all organized on social media, and several people were arrested.

Not all stores that were hit are chain stores. Looters struck a beauty supply store owned by a local couple and stole upwards of $100,000 worth of merchandise, the owners say.

Surveillance video shows them coming into the store with bags and loading up. The store owner says it looked like the looters were having a party.

The damage to the outside of the shopping center is more than $20,000, the manager says.

Across the parking lot, looters also went into the Target, pulling out computers and 65-inch televisions.

Police in Tukwila said what happened here was not a protest. It was organized looting. About 100 people came to the area in vehicles. Looters also tried to target a Walmart in Renton. It's unclear if they were successful.

No injuries were reported in Tukwila. Curfews around King County all ended this morning.

Looters also moved on to Auburn late Sunday night, prompting officials there to impose a curfew in effect until 7 a.m. Monday. A number of stores were hit there overnight.

Protests also got out of hand in Spokane, and a curfew there ended at 5 a.m. Monday.