Seattle protest declared a riot hours after curfew begins

RENTON, Wash. -- Protests were peaceful for most of the day Monday until about 9:00 p.m. when police used flash bangs and tear gas in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Seattle police said the incident commander declared the incident a riot after they said the crowd threw "rocks, bottles and fireworks at officers" and were "attempting to breach barricades one block from the East Precinct."

Videos circulating on social media appeared to show the tension growing as protesters approached the police barricade with umbrellas.

It became a chaotic scene as police used tear gas and flash bangs on the crowd. Many protesters left the area and some returned before making their way back into downtown Seattle.

Police said they used "less-lethal munitions and a mobile line of bike officers was established to disperse the crowd."

The incident happened after hours of peaceful protest and after East Precinct commanders spoke and knelt with protesters near 11th Ave. and Pine St.

Renton and Seattle announced curfews Monday ahead of planned protests around the Puget Sound region.

At a news conference, Durkan said the curfew would begin at 6 p.m. and last until 5 a.m. There were curfews in Seattle on Saturday and Sunday nights as well. Durkan said most of the thousands of protesters were peaceful, but there was an element that engaged in “violence, looting and chaos.”

Police Chief Carmen Best said earlier 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.

Exact details of the Renton curfew were not immediately available. Additional details were expected to be announced shortly.

Curfews were announced in multiple cities over the weekend, after riots damaged multiple businesses in the Puget Sound.

Gov. Jay Inslee has sent 400 National Guard troops to help Seattle contain demonstrations. And Inslee has activated the National Guard following vandalism and mass theft in stores and shopping malls in multiple cities following protests over the killing of George Floyd.

Inslee had previously authorized 400 troops for Seattle and 200 troops for Bellevue. On Saturday night, people smashed downtown Seattle storefronts and stole items from many businesses, tossing mannequins into the street. On Sunday, there was looting in stores and shopping malls in Bellevue, Spokane, Tukwila and Renton.

Inslee’s activation means more troops could be available to help control unrest. The governor planned a Monday afternoon news conference to speak about the protests.

“We must not let these illegal and dangerous actions detract from the anger so many feel at the deep injustice laid so ugly and bare by the death of George Floyd,” Inslee said in a statement late Sunday. “But we also will not turn away from our responsibility to protect the residents of our state.”

Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle was closed Sunday afternoon because of protest activity, the second day in a row the main north-south freeway on the West Coast was shut down, and there was also widespread disruption in Bellevue, Washington.

Bellevue Police said dozens of people broke into Bellevue Square, a large shopping mall. Officers entered the facility and chased people out. Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said at an evening news conference that authorities learned earlier that a criminal gang planned activity in the city Sunday afternoon. He said there was widespread incidents of looting and assaults, and the criminal element “swelled very quickly.”

“They were there to destroy,” Mylett said. “We welcome peaceful protest ... this is something different.”

Mylett said he was disgusted at what happened to Floyd, who was killed when a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck, but that violence overshadows legitimate protests.

After a night of rioting in downtown Spokane, all Spokane County buildings on the courthouse campus were closed Monday.

The Spokane County commissioners announced the closure Sunday night.

That was after peaceful protests in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis devolved into a riot that saw Spokane law enforcement officers shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd on Sunday night.

There were no reports of serious injuries in Spokane.

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.

More coverage from FOX TV Stations across the U.S.

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Washington, DC: DC curfew goes into effect tonight at 7, will last for 2 days

New York: New York City under curfew after violence flares amid protests

Atlanta: Curfew extended in Atlanta for Monday night as protests enter 4th day

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Dallas: Dallas police investigating two 'use of force' incidents Sunday that left two injured

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Orlando: Orlando jewelry store cleaning up $200K in damages from looters

Milwaukee: Law enforcement joined protesters in march through Waukesha after George Floyd’s death

Seattle: Seattle, Renton announce curfews ahead of planned protests Monday night

Austin: Gov. Abbott says out-of-state agitators will face federal prosecution