Inslee orders statewide Guard activation following unrest

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee late Sunday ordered a statewide activation of the National Guard following vandalism and thefts in stores and shopping malls in multiple cities following protests over the killing of George Floyd.

And police in Portland, Oregon, deployed incendiary devices to disperse a large crowd in downtown late Sunday night after authorities said projectiles – including aerial mortars – were thrown at officers.

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 were thefts in stores and shopping malls in Bellevue, Spokane, Tukwila and Renton.

Inslee’s activation means more troops will be used to help control unrest.

“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. “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 arrow the main north-south freeway on the West Coast was shut down, and there was also widespread stealing in Bellevue, Washington.

Portland also again saw large rallies, and police used tear gas to disperse crowds. Later Sunday night hundreds of people gathered outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown. Police said protesters smashed windows at the federal courthouse and through loudspeakers authorities declared the late-night gathering a civil disturbance.

Bellevue’s mayor declared an emergency Sunday evening because of the violence and said she was enacting a 5:30 p.m. curfew for the downtown area of the city east of Seattle. Gov. Jay Inslee said late Sunday he was sending 200 National Guard troops to Bellevue.

Bellevue Police said dozens of people broke into Bellevue Square, a large shopping mall. Officers entered the facility and chased people out. Mayor Lynne Robinson said people were stealing merchandise from storefronts and that help was requested from other police agencies. Earlier, the Washington State Patrol said it was sending units to help quell the unrest there.

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 stealing and assaults, and the criminal element “swelled very quickly.”

““They were there to destroy,” chief 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.

Later Sunday night, police in Tukwila, Washington, said there were thefts at several stores around Southcenter Mall. Police fired tear gas and made several arrests. Stealing was also reported in nearby Renton, Washington.

Washington State Patrol spokesman Rick Johnson said I-5 was closed for safety reasons, and all Interstate 405 ramps to downtown Bellevue were closed as well because of the mayhem there. I-5 in Seattle was reopened Sunday night.

Hundreds of people gathered to rally Sunday in downtown Seattle following unrest Saturday night that saw storefronts smashed and thefts. The first few hours of the Sunday demonstration were peaceful with the group taking a knee every so often in silence and chanting “Say his name, George Floyd.” People along nearby streets cleaned and boarded up windows while law enforcement officers on all corners observed.

Dallas Dala, a black man who moved to Seattle from the Congo in 2008, said Sunday that he had been at the protests to support and talk with people. “For me it was about every life matters no matter what, white, black yellow or red. I love everybody,” he said.

However several people were later arrested, and police deployed incendiary devices to control the crowd.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan again imposed a 5 p.m. curfew for all of Seattle. At a Sunday evening news conference, Durkan said thousands of people have protested peacefully in the city over the weekend. But those who cause mayhem don’t honor concerns about racism and Floyd’s death and “came to, number one, purposely create violence and destruction,” she said.

Inslee dispatched an additional 200 National Guard troops to Seattle to help maintain order after protests turned chaotic, with rioters smashing up storefronts and stealing clothes and other items from downtown shops. Inslee’s order means that up to to 400 National Guard personnel will be available to assist.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said of Sunday’s 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew: “We fully intend to enforce that curfew in the city.” However hundreds of mostly peaceful demonstrators marched between downtown and the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, also imposed a Sunday curfew for 8 p.m. Portland, too, saw widespread mayhem Friday and Saturday. Other Northwest cities with Sunday curfews included Eugene and Salem in Oregon.

There were protests and rallies in other Northwest cities on Sunday. In Spokane, hundreds marched through downtown carrying signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and chanting “no justice, no peace.” Later in the evening, police used tear gas to move crowds away from downtown stores after reports of thefts.

Police in Seattle arrested at least 27 people Saturday on charges like assault and theft, while Portland police arrested 48 people after downtown storefronts were vandalized and fires were set overnight Saturday.

On Sunday morning, hundreds of people of all ages turned out in downtown Seattle to help clean up the destruction, sweeping up broken glass and cleaning off graffiti. Durkan and Best walked through the area and spoke with business owners.

“I visited downtown this morning. It wasn’t a downtown I recognized,” Durkan said Sunday. “But what I did recognize were the hundreds of volunteers and residents who came because they love Seattle.”

In Seattle, Durkan announced her curfew for Saturday and Sunday after rioters torched police vehicles and spilled onto I-5, forcing the freeway’s temporary closure through the central part of the city.

Thousands of people gathered in downtown Seattle in the rain to protest the killing of Floyd, a black man who died Monday after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck until he stopped breathing. His death has prompted protests across the U.S. and Europe.

A largely peaceful demonstration happened in Seattle on Saturday afternoon, while police later deployed flash bang grenades to disperse people they said had begun throw rocks and bottles at officers. Police also pepper-sprayed demonstrators who got close to police lines, and officers with bicycles pushed people to move back.

News footage showed at least one destroyed police cruiser, other vehicle fires and people breaking into retail stores and other businesses. Video shot by a journalist from the Seattle news website Crosscut showed police arriving as storefronts were being smashed and broken into. As one officer restrained a person being arrested, the video showed the officer putting his knee on the man’s neck and the crowd yells for him to remove it. The video then shows a second officer pulling the knee off the neck and onto the detained man’s back.

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