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59 Seattle Cops Hurt In Riots, Bomb Blows Hole In Side Of East Precinct

Seattle, WA – At least 59 law enforcement officers were injured during violent riots in Seattle on Saturday when rioters blew a hole through the wall of the East Precinct, looted and destroyed businesses, and set occupied buildings aflame.

On Friday, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best sent out a letter to residents and businesses to let them know that the new city ordinance banning the use of crowd control weapons would go into effect on Saturday, and at that point, they were on their own as far as defending their property.

“Please know that the Seattle Police Department is committed to addressing life safety incidents and calls for service, and responding to ongoing demonstrations and unrest in the city,” Chief Best wrote in letter dated July 24.

“Please also know that the City Council Ordinance 119805 Crowd Control Tool goes into effect this weekend on Sunday, July 26, 2020. This ordinance bans Seattle Police officers the use of less lethal tools, including pepper spray that is commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent,” the chief wrote.

“Simply put, the legislation gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd,” the chief explained.

She said in the letter that she had notified the Seattle City Council about what was going to happen multiple times, and shared a copy of the letter she had sent to the lawmakers, Westside Seattle reported.

Chief Best warned the city council in a letter on Thursday about violent riots expected as soon as the weapons ban went into effect, and said she couldn’t send officers in to stop the riots if she wasn’t allowed to properly equip them, according to Westside Seattle.

“Under these circumstances, as created by Council, we cannot manage demonstrations as we have in the past,” the chief wrote. “If I am not allowed to lawfully equip officers with the tools they have been trained to use to protect the community and themselves, it would be reckless to have them confront this level of violence under the current legal restrictions imposed by Council.”

But U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order during an emergency hearing late on Friday night that put a hold on the city’s new ordinance, the Seattle Patch reported.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the challenge to the city’s ban on less-lethal tactical devices and argued that it conflicted with the consent decree in the federal oversight agreement that has been in effect since 2012.

Robart called the injunction “very temporary” and said he would rule after he had feedback from the city’s three police accountability branches, Seattle Patch reported.

The judge said he didn’t think it would increase public safety to take away all of the officers’ crowd-control tools in the middle of violent protests without training them in “alternate mechanisms to de-escalate and resolve dangerous situations” during rioting.

The timing of the judge’s order proved fortuitous because thousands of rioters tore through the city on Saturday night and attacked the East Precinct with projectiles and explosives, KIRO reported.

More than 5,000 protesters began gathering at about 1 p.m. on July 25 for what began as a peaceful protest.

The march in support of the months of Black Lives Matter protests and rioting in Portland started out at East Pine Street and Broadway and stretched for more than a city block, KIRO reported.

But at around 4 p.m., the protest devolved into a riot as violent protesters targeted the construction site of the former King County Youth Detention Center, which is being turned into a parking lot.

Rioters had brought sledgehammers with them on the march, and used them to smash the windshields of employees cars in the parking lot, KIRO reported.

They also scaled a fence and firebombed a row of construction trailers located on 12th Avenue.

From the construction site, the vandalism and destruction continued up the street and multiple businesses were attacked, KIRO reported.

A Starbucks at 12th Avenue and Columbia Street had its windows smashed and was looted before it was set on fire, KTTH reported.

The Starbucks was located on the first floor of an occupied apartment building and residents had to be evacuated when it was set ablaze.

An Amazon store and a Whole Foods met with similar fates.

Seattle police said protesters vandalized the outside of the police department’s East Precinct with spray paint and tried to disable the security cameras, KIRO reported.

Rioters breached the fence protecting the building and shot an explosive device at the building that blew an eight-inch hole in the side of the precinct.

That’s when police declared a riot, KIRO reported.

Police said rioters threw rocks, bottles, and mortars at officers, injuring dozens.

KIRO captured video of a protesters trying to tear an officer’s riot helmet off his head.

Chief Best said police used pepper spray, pepper balls, and 40 mm sponge rounds but did not deploy tear gas.

Police arrested 47 protesters for assault on officers, obstruction, and failure to disperse, KIRO reported.

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Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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