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UPDATES: In Northwest And Nationwide, Peaceful Protests Of Police Action Mix With Violent Clashes

Protesters gather at the Spokane County Courthouse Sunday, May 31, 2020 as part of nationwide demonstrations against police treatment of African Americans and other groups. The Spokane event started in the city's downtown Riverfront Park, with several thousand people marching peacefully in streets across the city's Monroe Street Bridge to the courthouse. CREDIT: Nick Deshais/N3
Protesters gather at the Spokane County Courthouse Sunday, May 31, 2020 as part of nationwide demonstrations against police treatment of African Americans and other groups. The Spokane event started in the city's downtown Riverfront Park, with several thousand people marching peacefully in streets across the city's Monroe Street Bridge to the courthouse. CREDIT: Nick Deshais/N3

SEE MORE ON PROTESTS, RALLIES AND CLASHES: 

Seattle (KUOW) / Seattle (KNKX)  / Portland (OPB)  /

Richland (KAPP-KVEW) / Pasco (T-C Herald) Eugene (KLCC) / Nationwide (NPR)

Updated May 31, 2020, 11:45 p.m. PT

In response to destructive events and looting around the state, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has authorized a statewide activation of the National Guard. The order issued Sunday night allows unarmed guard members to deploy anywhere their presence is requested by a city or county.

The move follows looting and property damage in Seattle, Bellevue and Spokane over the weekend. That unrest grew out of otherwise peaceful demonstrations to protest the death of George Floyd because of police in Minneapolis, and general treatment of African Americans and other groups.

The Washington National Guard is often called up to respond to fires and other natural disasters. Recently guard members have been assisting with the state’s emergency response to COVID-19. But a statewide call up to respond to civil unrest is unusual.

— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) June 1, 2020

Big Spokane Protest And March Largely Peaceful, Turns To Looting And Clashes By Small Group

Spokane joined a list of cities across the Northwest and the nation on Sunday, with thousands of marchers protesting police treatment of black people and other groups, sparked most recently by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Inland Northwest correspondent Nick Deshais was there.

Protesters gather at the Spokane County Courthouse Sunday, May 31, 2020 as part of nationwide demonstrations against police treatment of African Americans and other groups. The Spokane event started in the city’s downtown Riverfront Park, with several thousand people marching peacefully in streets across the city’s Monroe Street Bridge to the courthouse. CREDIT: Nick Deshais/N3

“The main protest started and ended peacefully, with the crowd swelling to an estimated 3,500 people. After about a half hour of hearing speeches and nearly constant chanting at Riverfront Park, marchers walked to the county courthouse, about a mile away,” Deshais reported for the public media Northwest News Network. “I walked with them over the Monroe Street Bridge, as they blocked traffic, and police set up barricades to direct cars to other routes. At the courthouse, signs read ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘We Can’t Breathe’ and ‘Justice for George Floyd.’ Police in riot gear kept their distance as protesters gathered outside the courthouse. Aside from some yelling, though, there was no real violence evident.”

The afternoon rally and march was one of the largest demonstrations the city has seen in recent memory, with only the Women’s March in 2016 drawing a larger crowd.

As the crowd thinned at the Spokane County Courthouse Sunday, Spokane Police Department and Sheriff’s Office deputies “took a knee” with protesters in a sign of support. Another group marched back downtown.

— Kevin Kim (@NewsWithKevin) May 31, 2020

Some in the crowd could have remembered 2011, when a white supremacist placed a bomb along the route of the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march. The explosive device was discovered on a bench along the parade route before it exploded.

Though the main rally and march to the courthouse Sunday was largely peaceful and without incident, late into the afternoon and early evening a much smaller crowd continued to protest and march through streets of downtown Spokane.

A small group of looters broke windows and stole merchandise from the downtown Nike store, causing a police response to disperse crowds.

— Jesse Tinsley (@Jesse_Tinsley) June 1, 2020

Multiple journalists and news media outlets on the scene at the time reported police used tear gas to disperse crowds in streets after 7 p.m.

— Brandon T. Jones (@BrandonTJones_) June 1, 2020

— Chad Sokol (@bychadsokol) June 1, 2020

In response to the escalating tension and looting downtown by a small group, the city declared a curfew for the downtown area until 5 a.m. Monday, to “give everyone a chance to cool down” read a tweet from the official city Twitter account.

— City of Spokane (@SpokaneCity) June 1, 2020

Saturday, May 30: Seattle Peaceful Protests And Separate Clashes; Curfew In Place, National Guard Called In

BY AUSTIN JENKINS AND CASEY MARTIN

Crowds packed into Westlake Park Saturday to peacefully protest the police killing of George Floyd, a black man in Minneapolis, and to demonstrate against police treatment of black Americans and people of color in Seattle and nationwide.

The Seattle protest turned violent later in the day when another group squared off with police. Multiple cars were set on fire. Police used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash bangs to disperse the crowd.

I-5 South was closed briefly when some protesters walked on to the highway in downtown Seattle.

Seattle-Protest-053020-CREDIT-Megan-Farmer-KUOW.jpg

Protesters gather at 5th Avenue and Cherry Street in downtown Seattle on Saturday, May 30, 2020. They were protesting the death in Minneapolis of an African American man, George Floyd, in police custody. CREDIT: Megan Farmer/KUOW

Washington State Patrol troopers in riot gear arrived in armored trucks when people started breaking in to downtown businesses.

Dozens of store fronts were destroyed and robbed. Police said at least people were arrested.

In response, Mayor Jenny Durkan imposed a 5 p.m. curfew Sunday for all downtown residents. Gov. Jay Inslee deployed the National Guard to Seattle after a request from Durkan.

Karina Shagren, a spokesperson for the state military department, says up to 200 guard members with training in crowd control will deploy.

“To assist in downtown Seattle with primarily the protection of property, but also the potential for crowd movement to ensure that buildings and infrastructure is protected as well as to ensure that those who want to peacefully protest are able to do that.”

Shagren says the guard members who are being called up have special training in crowd control. While the governor authorized their deployment, city of Seattle officials will have authority over what they do in the city.

In November 1999, the Washington National Guard also deployed to Seattle to assist with the WTO riots.

On Sunday, people gathered in downtown Seattle to help clean-up the streets and remove graffiti from buildings.

— Ken Lambert (@SeaTimesFotoKen) May 31, 2020

Meanwhile, In Tacoma…

Tacoma, Seattle’s neighbor to the south, saw peaceful actions and demonstrations Saturday from religious and civic leaders, as KNKX’s Will James reported.

“We all heard and saw a lot today,” James wrote on Twitter after a day following the Tacoma demonstrations. “I just want to say I spent the day watching a mayor who’s a Black woman grieving with her constituents. Old men kneeling in the rain praying with shaky voices. Neighbors cheering each other. I was thanked again and again for being there.”

This was the scene earlier today in Hilltop, a historically Black neighborhood

Dozens of pastors, many of them older, kneeling in the rain on street corners, audibly pleading with God pic.twitter.com/d04ff6PTvn

— Will James (@OtherWillJames) May 30, 2020

This was the scene earlier today in Hilltop, a historically Black neighborhood

Dozens of pastors, many of them older, kneeling in the rain on street corners, audibly pleading with God pic.twitter.com/d04ff6PTvn

— Will James (@OtherWillJames) May 30, 2020

Friday, May 30: Portland Vigil And Later Violent Clashes Downtown

BY JONATHAN LEVINSON / OPB

An evening vigil for George Floyd and other victims of police violence drew a large, peaceful crowd in Portland on Friday, but eventually led to damage to buildings and looting.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a State of Emergency in response to the night of violence just before 4 a.m. Saturday. The emergency order includes a nightly curfew, effective immediately. The first night’s curfew lasted until 6 a.m. Saturday, it will resume 8 p.m. Saturday and extend to 6 p.m. Sunday morning, said Wheeler.

Wheeler and other local leaders including Commissioner Jo An Hardesty, Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis, Portland Fire and Rescue Chief Sara Boone, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese, and others will convene for an 8 a.m. press conference Saturday to discuss the violent demonstrations.

Jonathan-Levinson-OPB-Portland-Protests-I-Cant-Breathe-052930.jpg

Demonstrators marched through the streets of Portland, Ore., Friday, May 29, 2020, joining nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. CREDIT: Jonathan Levinson/OPB

PPB announced Saturday morning that police had arrested 13 people for a variety of charges including theft, burglary, riot and arson. More arrests are pending, said the agency.

The vigil began around 6 p.m. at Peninsula Park, where hundreds of people wearing masks and socially distancing gathered to hear speakers decry the death of Black Americans like George Floyd — a Minneapolis man who died Monday after police restrained him, kneeled on his neck for several minutes, and ignored Floyd’s pleas that he could not breathe.

After hours of peaceful demonstration, some members of the crowd marched from Peninsula Park to the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland. The building is home to the county jail and police headquarters.

Protest-break-into-Multnomah-County-Justice-Center-052930-CREDIT-Jonathan-Levinson-OPB.jpg

Demonstrators broke into and set a small fire in the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland, Ore., Friday, May 29, 2020. CREDIT: Jonathan Levinson/OPB

Video showed some protesters breaking windows on the building before entering, damaged computers, spraying graffiti and setting a small fire. Portland police in riot gear quickly moved into the area shortly after 11 p.m. and ordered people to disperse from the area. Police used tear gas and loud speakers to move the crowd away from the Justice Center and regain control of the building.

Other Protests, Clashes, Riots Nationwide

BY VANESSA ROMO, HANNAH HAGEMANN & SUZANNE NUYEN / NPR

Protests nationwide on Friday followed the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Clashes erupted between activists and law enforcement in many locations, and at least two people were dead by Saturday morning.

Demonstrators nationwide have taken to the streets after Floyd died while being arrested in Minneapolis. A video shows a police officer kneeling on his neck for at least seven minutes; Floyd is heard begging for the police to stop and saying he cannot breathe. That police officer has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers were present but have not been charged. All four were fired earlier in the week.

One person was killed in Detroit as hundreds of people gathered in the city’s downtown area as part of the nationwide protests.

As WXYZ TV, an ABC News affiliate, reported, a Detroit Police Department spokesperson said, “A grey Dodge Durango pulled up and fired into the crowd, striking a 19-year-old man.” The shooting did not involve police.

Protesters were allowed to march in the streets until shortly before midnight when officers, outfitted in riot gear, began firing tear gas into the crowds, according to the news station.

ap_20151212911474_custom-01e0c4d127858290eea4a3c030b515b367e12107-1024x682.jpg

A man raises his hands as police line up across the street during protests Friday in Minneapolis. Demonstrators expressed outrage and grief across the nation over the death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by police.

CREDIT: Julio Cortez/AP

Officials said at least nine people were arrested after the demonstrations were pronounced to be unlawful gatherings.

In Oakland, Calif., a contract security officer for the Federal Protective Service was killed and another injured in a shooting at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building on Friday night, according to a statement from the FBI. The service is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The officers were shot after a vehicle approached the building, and “an individual inside the vehicle began firing.” Officials did not immediately release more details about the shooting.

In Minneapolis, after a night of rioting, looting and setting a number of businesses ablaze on Thursday, the situation seemed calmer early Friday.

Officials there appeared to take a nonconfrontational approach to people marching through the city for much of the day, despite some instances of civil disorder. But as the hours passed and protesters ignored a citywide 8 p.m. curfew, law enforcement reversed course.

The new strategy included deploying a column of National Guard troops, including armored vehicles, to respond to protests near the 5th Precinct. People had set fire to the 3rd Precinct on Thursday night, forcing police to abandon the building.

On Friday night, protesters also reportedly were seen breaking into a Wells Fargo Bank, which was also torched.

At an early morning press conference on Saturday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey urged demonstrators to go home.

Walz said he understood the rage felt across the nation but condemned what he called “wanton destruction.”

“This is not grieving,” he said. “This is not making a statement. This is life-threatening and dangerous to the most well-qualified forces out there.”

Frey said he was “reeling” along with the rest of his city over Floyd’s death but emphasized that “there is no honor in burning down your city.” He pointed out that local businesses and institutions that many citizens depend on amid the coronavirus pandemic that had been destroyed.

Major Gen. Jon Jensen announced the state’s National Guard was preparing to deploy 1,700 soldiers. The action would be the largest deployment within Minnesota in the state’s history.

“They are telling our stories, and you are disgracing their building”

In other cities, most of the demonstrations began peacefully, but as the day unfolded and night fell, they became increasingly violent.

That was true in Atlanta, where a crowd of protesters outside of an entrance to CNN’s headquarters on Friday evening repeatedly threw rocks at officers attempting to keep them from rushing into the building.

Armed with riot gear, more than a dozen officers braced as they endured attacks from protesters with rocks, smoke grenades, and apparently BB rounds. At one point, protesters threw a flashbang that detonated in a small lobby.

— CNN (@CNN) May 30, 2020

In response, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp issued a state of emergency around midnight.

“At the request of Mayor [Keisha Lance Bottoms] & in consultation with public safety & emergency preparedness officials, I have issued a State of Emergency for Fulton County to activate as many as 500 [Georgia National Guard] troops to protect people & property in Atlanta,” Kemp announced in a tweet.

Earlier in the day, a police vehicle was set on fire — an act of vandalism reporters have cited as a turning point in the day’s activities.

Bottoms pleaded with those marching in the streets to stop rioting.

“You are burning cars, you have defaced the CNN building. Ted Turner started CNN in Atlanta 40 years ago because he believed in who we are as a city. … They are telling our stories, and you are disgracing their building,” Bottoms said in a televised interview.

Others who had surrounded CNN’s headquarters, smashed the building’s windows and sprayed graffiti on the network’s logo.

The messages scrawled on the building included insults to President Trump, along with #Love and “no cops.”

Los Angeles crowd descends on uniformed officer

In Los Angeles, an angry crowd rushed into the streets amid oncoming traffic.

At one point, an officer grabbed a male activist in an attempt to restrain him. After a brief tussle, a throng of protesters pulled the officer to the ground. They descended on the uniformed officer, kicking and hitting him with protest signs. Eventually, a man in civilian clothing pulled the officer out of the melee.

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Police officers and protesters clash on Friday near CNN Center in Atlanta, in response to George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

CREDIT: Mike Stewart/AP

Dozens of people later marched onto the 110 Freeway blocking all of the northbound lanes.

But as the sun set, some protesters became more destructive.

One group busted the windows of a downtown Starbucks and other local restaurants. Others set trash cans on fire and pushed dumpsters toward lines of police officers.

At about 10:30 p.m. local time, the police department declared an unlawful assembly throughout the core downtown area.

“This is being made following repeated acts of violence & property damage,” officials said on Twitter.

White House on lockdown

On Friday afternoon, the U.S. Secret Service temporarily locked down the White House after demonstrators gathered in protest outside the gates. Many took a knee while others chanted, “Don’t Shoot.”

Football player Colin Kaepernick became well-known for kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. The image is going viral again.

Shortly afterward, Secret Service officials said “personnel are currently assisting other law enforcement agencies during a demonstration” in the park across from the White House. Law enforcement struggled with protesters over metal barricades that form one of the layers of protection around the White House.

Protesters remained at the White House early Saturday morning, shoving police as they stood outside with shields. At one point, police appeared to attempt to disperse the crowd by using tear gas or pepper spray.

New York protests turn violent

More protests broke out in New York, also peacefully at first, in lower Manhattan area and then with spurts of violence at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Protesters threw water bottles and chanted insults at police.

In a video captured by a local reporter, police can be seen wielding batons and beating several protesters to the ground, and at one point spraying a crowd with a repellent, and making arrests.

“Our police officers have been given a very clear instruction: As always, respect peaceful protest. We in this city have a long history of respecting every kind of viewpoint, that is the essence of New York City,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference Friday.

The Associated Press reports in Brooklyn, at least one New York Police Department van was set on fire by demonstrators twice.

At least 200 demonstrators were arrested Friday and a dozen NYPD officers injured, according to local reports. Seventy protesters were taken into custody on Thursday.

In Denver, windows were smashed, fires burned late into the night

Demonstrators in Denver gathered peacefully at noon Friday, for the second day in a row, at the state Capitol and downtown, according to local reports. Protesters chanted, “Say his name — George Floyd,” and other slogans but eventually struggles broke out with police.

Protesters defaced a statue on the Capitol steps, and spray-painted “I can’t breathe” and other graffiti on pillars. On the video, Floyd can be heard pleading for his life and saying he couldn’t breathe.

The police responded with gas and rubber bullets. I am disgusted in how allies ignored our asks to go home and stay peaceful.

— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) May 30, 2020

According to local reports, demonstrators broke windows and threw water bottles and rocks at police officers, who threw flash bangs, shot pepper pellets and sprayed tear gas at crowds.

Tay Anderson, a Denver school board member and community organizer, said in a tweet that those who took part in violence Friday were asked to stop by protest organizers.

This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org

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