SEATTLE – Police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of protesters in Seattle on Saturday night, the ninth consecutive day of George Floyd protests in the city.
The mayhem in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood followed a large, peaceful demonstration earlier in the day with medical workers demonstrating against racism and police brutality. It also came a day after Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.
KING-TV reported that a small group of protesters started throwing objects at officers about 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Police ordered the crowd to move, then used incendiary devices.
After police were severely criticized by protesters and public officials alike for using tear gas and pepper spray to disperse largely peaceful crowds, Durkan and Best said Friday outside groups would review and update crowd-control policies, including the use of pepper spray and deadly force techniques such as neck and choke holds. She and the mayor added that the ban on one kind of tear gas known as CS could be extended if groups need more time for policy review.
Earlier Saturday thousands of doctors, nurses and others – many in lab coats and scrubs, in addition to face masks – marched from Harborview Medical Center to City Hall on Saturday. One sign said, “Nurses kneel with you, not on you.” Another said, “Police violence and racism are a public health emergency.”
Nhi Tan, a medical student at the University of Washington, told the Seattle Times she joined the demonstration out of “overwhelming sadness.”
“It took irrefutable proof – the perfect video, the perfect camera angle, the perfect light – for white America to see what’s going on,” she said.
Crowds also demonstrated in other parts of the city and throughout the state, with protests held in Shoreline, Bellingham and elsewhere.
Durkan said Saturday she is encouraging protesters to be tested for COVID-19, after the city and King County public health departments expanded testing criteria to cover asymptomatic people who have attended large protests.
“Over the last week, residents across Seattle have been gathering to build community and share their anger and frustration about the killing of George Floyd and injustices against Black Americans, here in Seattle and across the country,” Durkan said in a statement. “While I believe everyone should exercise their right and speak out, we must also remember we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Protesters have gathered across the U.S. and around the world to demonstrate against the death of Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died after pleading for air as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.
Seattle last week also addressed other concerns of the protesters, lifting its curfew and forbidding officers who work the protests from covering up their badge numbers.
The protests in recent days had been more peaceful than last weekend, when small groups engaged in rioting and looting.
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