Tacoma businesses damaged after a day of peaceful protests turns disruptive

TACOMA -- A long day of peaceful protests in Tacoma turned disruptive and destructive as night fell Monday, leaving several State Street businesses cleaning up shattered storefronts and other damage Tuesday morning.

Area youth hosted a peaceful protest Monday to show people the fight toward change can be done peacefully. Students also provided free handmade face masks to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

People of all races, ages and backgrounds participated in the peaceful protests at Wright Park, but the marches later moved to SR-16 and I-5 in Tacoma, disrupting traffic after curfew and prompting Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodard to take to the streets and plead with protesters to go home.

Dan Ricketts, a Tacoma resident who lives above Carmen Beer Co., said as marchers moved along State Street, he saw people getting out of cars with bats.

"The protest was peaceful. This was people ruining the place," Ricketts said.

While Tacoma was trying to move protesters off of freeways, Seattle's afternoon of peaceful protests was declared a riot around 9 p.m., three hours after the citywide curfew took effect.

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."

“Officers deployed less-lethal munitions and a mobile line of bike officers was established to disperse the crowd,” police said in a statement. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

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

Earlier Monday Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said 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.