SEATTLE — Authorities say a man drove a car at George Floyd protesters in Seattle Sunday night, hit a barricade then exited the vehicle brandishing a pistol. At least one person was injured.
The victim was a 27-year-old male who was shot and taken to a hospital in stable condition, the Seattle Fire Department said.
Video taken by a reporter for The Seattle Times showed part of the scene in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where hundreds of demonstrators have gathered for days near a police precinct.
It was the second night of mayhem near the police station. On Saturday night, police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse protesters on Capitol Hill. Seattle City Council members sharply criticized Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best for the police action.
Authorities said rocks, bottles and explosives were thrown at officers in the Capitol Hill neighborhood Saturday night. Best said six officers were injured, including two who were taken to a nearby hospital. It followed a large, peaceful demonstration earlier with medical workers demonstrating against racism and police brutality. It also came a day after Durkan and Best imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.
Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez wrote on Twitter on Saturday night that she is “outraged” by the police response. “This is NOT what de-escalation looks like!”
And City Council member Teresa Mosqueda urged Durkan and Best to “stop traumatizing protesters and neighbors” and said on Twitter she received reports that the protests had been peaceful.
A small group of protesters started throwing objects at officers about 7:30 p.m. Saturday, police said, and the crowd was ordered to disperse. Incendiary devices were then used. After the flash bangs were deployed, several City Council members and other elected officials went to the protest lines.
At a news conference Sunday night, Durkan, addressing the concerns of protesters and other elected officials, said she would freeze spending on police technology, weapons, vehicles and buildings until further talks with community members,. And she said she would find $100 million in budget allocations for community needs. However, the mayor said that money wouldn’t come from police budgets, as many protesters have demanded.
On Sunday, thousands of people again turned out to protest. In South Seattle, demonstrators gathered at a park to hear speakers. And people again turned out in the Capitol Hill neighborhood Sunday evening. The Capitol Hill event was largely peaceful until the man drove the car into the barricade.
Police had boarded up the windows at a police precinct and installed sturdier barricades. Best said putting in stronger barricades could help avoid confrontations between police and protesters over the barricades being moved.
The police chief said Sunday: “We really want to meet peace with peace.” But Best said police have to protect themselves, law-enforcement facilities and other demonstrators from potential “bad actors” in the crowd.
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. Best 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.
CS gas was not used Saturday night, police said.
In an open letter to Durkan on Sunday, the head of Seattle’s police union blamed Saturday’s unrest on “criminal agitators who continue to attempt to provoke police.”
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said the union supports peaceful demonstrations and reform efforts, but a small criminal element in the ongoing protests creates danger.
“This situation is becoming more untenable by the day and I fear law and order and SPOG members’ safety are in peril,” Solan wrote.