Seattle leaders stand firm against federal forces after Sunday riot

Some Seattle leaders are concerned the Trump administration will use Sunday’s violent riot as a reason to inject federal agents into the city against its will, as it has done in Portland. 

A council member is pleading with the public to remain peaceful while a downtown business association is asking the city to take a more firm stance against destruction.

Sunday’s demonstration started peaceful downtown, but ended with rioters running the streets. They smashed storefronts, court buildings and attacked police precincts, injuring 12 officers and sending one to the hospital, according to Seattle Police Department.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office said in a statement sent to Q13 News that the “destructive acts do nothing to advance justice.”

The mayor also joined five other mayors across the country in a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr and Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, urging them to refrain from sending federal agents to their cities. 

The letter states that even when protests do turn violent, “it still does not justify the use of federal forces.”

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold said Monday she was concerned Sunday’s violence would be an excuse for the Trump administration to send in agents after the president promised to bring ‘law and order’ to Democratic-led cities seeing violence. 

“I plead with the public to please continue your demonstrations, we need your voices to propel necessary change in policing, but I plead with you to please do so peacefully,” Herbold said.

“I hope the local officials can manage the situation,” said Downtown Seattle Association’s President and CEO Jon Scholes.

He told Q13 News he does not think federal agents are needed but did say the city does needs to draw a firm line when rioters derail peaceful protests.

“We can’t allow this to take place,” he said of Sunday’s violence. “We need to identify who these folks are and make sure that they don’t feel like they can come to the middle of our city on a beautiful Sunday summer afternoon and kind of have their way. It’s just not acceptable.”

With each smashed window, Scholes said he sees a steeper road to recovery for downtown Seattle, where businesses are already struggling with the deep cuts of COVID-19. 

“There’s just a lot of frustration, anxiety and uncertainty and the events of Sunday don’t help with any of that,” he said.

He said authorities should act swiftly to hold people accountable for the violence to send a message and discourage offenders from coming back. 

“When people come downtown just to break more stuff, that doesn’t make it any easier on anybody and it doesn’t advance the real serious issues and significant causes that so many are bringing to the forefront in our community and our country,” Scholes said.

SPD initially announced two arrests in connection to Sunday’s violence. The mayor’s office said Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best are in close contact and that the department is investigating the crimes and will continue to hold people accountable for the destruction.