Updates: Protests for racial justice in the Seattle area (August 24-27)
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THURSDAY, AUGUST 27
Aunt of Jacob Blake holds rally at Seattle City Hall
5 p.m. -- Family members of Jacob Blake in the Puget Sound region voiced their anger, fear, and hope today in Seattle. Nicki Blake Chafetz is the aunt of Jacob Blake, who was shot this week by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. She lives in Auburn, Wash.
Chafetz spoke out against continuing police brutality at a rally in front of Seattle City Hall.
“We told them to stop after Trayvon. We told them to stop after Sandra Bland. We told them to stop after Philando Castile. We especially told them to stop after George Floyd,” she said. “Now, after the attempted execution of my nephew, we are telling them to stop again. We need people to listen and figure out how to solve this problem.”
Nicki Blake Chafetz will be joining a Black Lives Matter march for her nephew on Sunday. It’s planned to take place in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, down the street from Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct.
Read more here.
-- Anna Boiko-Weyrauch
Alaska man charged with arson at East Precinct in Seattle
3:30 p.m. -- A 19-year-old Alaskan man was charged in federal court Thursday with arson. He is accused of attempting to set fire to the Seattle Police Department's East Precinct on August 24.
“This is the fourth defendant to appear in federal court after being charged with criminal conduct that went far beyond any peaceful protest,” said U.S. Attorney Brian Moran. “Those who go to protest but choose violence and criminal acts over protected speech will face the full weight of federal criminal sanctions. This illegal conduct must end.”
Charging documents state that Desmond David-Pitts came to Seattle three days before the protest on Monday, Aug. 24. He is accused of stacking trash at a door at the precinct and setting that trash on fire. The incident was caught on security cameras. Other people attempted to seal the door off with crowbars and a cement-like material. It was one of two fires reportedly set at the precinct that night.
Prosecutors say that David-Pitts was arrested about an hour after the incident and identified by "distinctive pink camouflage trousers he was wearing," according to a statement.
“The intentional fire set Monday evening in an organized, pre-planned attack endangered the lives of our officers and our entire community. This was not a peaceful protest, or demonstration for equity, but an act of lawlessness. We are grateful our federal partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office recognize the criminal nature of these acts and are holding those responsible accountable,” said Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.
Seattle police have previously noted that the East Precinct is not a standalone building, but is connected to businesses and housing.
Prosecutors state that three other people have also been charged with arson in Seattle:
- Devinare Antwan Parker was charged on June 10 with possessing a destructive device for bringing an improvised firearm to a protest.
- Margaret Aislinn Channon was charged on June 11 with arson for setting five Seattle Police vehicles on fire.
- Isaiah Thomas Willoughby was charged on July 15 with arson in connection with a fire set at the East Precinct.
Father of Lorenzo Anderson files $3B in claims over death of son
9:30 a.m. -- The father of a teenager who was shot and killed in the CHOP has filed three separate $1 billion claims against Seattle, King County, and the state of Washington.
Lorenzo Anderson was shot and killed near the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone in the early morning hours of June 20. He was 19 years old. His father, Horace Anderson, filed the $3 billion worth in claims on Thursday morning through his attorney Evan M. Oshan. Oshan describes Lorenzo as a special needs teenager, who often volunteered with the Seattle non-profit Urban Artworks.
"This case warrants punitive or exemplary damages in order to punish the City of Seattle, County of King, the State of Washington and their agents for their outrageous conduct that allowed lawlessness to reign. Such failure to protect citizens must not be allowed to happen again," Oshan said.
Oshan and Associates says that the $3 billion worth of claims is the largest that has been filed in connection to the CHOP. The attorney argues that the city failed to offer needed medical assistance to Lorenzo after he was shot.
A document making their case further states that the city "supported, aided and abetted politically charged, armed, anarchist protestors to infiltrate, takeover, and govern a part of downtown Seattle. The County of King, and the Governor of Washington did not intervene and stop this state of lawlessness nor did any of their agents." It also states that while Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan promoted the CHOP as a "summer of love," it turned out to be a "summer of blood."
In July, Lorenzo's mother also filed a wrongful death claim with the city of Seattle.
Protesters clash with WSP in Seattle
9 a.m. -- There tense moments overnight outside the Washington State Patrol Headquarters near the I-5/520 interchange in Seattle.
Converge Media Journalist Omari Salibury was present to live stream the events, including clashes with police.
"There we go, pushing back now. There it is. It's going down," Salisbury can be heard saying on his video. "Oh, God damn it, there goes the mace. I just got maced. Ah, gosh darn it ... Press! Press! Hold on!"
Police clashed with a group holding a vigil for Summer Taylor, who was killed last month by a driver who plowed into a group of protesters on I-5 near downtown.
Officers told the group to disperse saying they, and the cars they had parked in the road, were blocking traffic.
But as the group stood its ground, officers used batons and pepper spray to push them back.
In video shot and narrated by Salisbury, you could see the crowd tripping over itself as people tried to get out of the way.
Police broke the windows out of one parked car and removed the driver. Tow trucks then came in and removed the other vehicles which demonstrators say they use as a protective barrier in response to the way Summer Taylor was killed.
Mariners refuse to play in protest
8:30 a.m. -- The Mariners are expected to play Thursday after refusing to play Wednesday night in a protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The Sounders also voted not to play and joined teams around the country which brought major sports league play to a standstill.
Sounders Coach Brian Schmetzer saying in a statement Wednesday night that he was proud -- the players were taking a stand and using their voices.
According to a tweet by Jeff Passan, a sportswriter for ESPN, the Seattle Mariners have the most Black players of any team in Major League Baseball.
Protesters shut down Ballard Bridge
8 a.m. -- A large group of people temporarily shut down the Ballard Bridge Wednesday morning as part of protests against racial injustices.
The group called Morning March Seattle occupied the bridge, stopping traffic around 10 a.m. They are demanding justice for Jacob Blake, who police in Wisconsin shot multiple times at close range on Sunday.
They're also demanding a 50% cut to the SPD, for Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign, and pressuring Councilmember Dan Strauss who represents Ballard, saying he hasn't done enough to cut the SPD budget.
The City Council voted this month to make initial cuts to the police budget, but those cuts were vetoed last Friday by Durkan.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 25
Demonstrators march in Seattle in solidarity with Kenosha, Wisconsin protests
Marches over racial justice in Seattle are further ignited this week by the shooting of Jacob Blake by a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer.
Witness video shows an officer shooting Blake in the back multiple times while he enters his car. Protests have erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and in other cities since Sunday.
In solidarity with them today, the group Morning March Seattle protested past houses on Capitol Hill. In video of their march, posted to Instagram, march leaders direct their shouts to bystanders, saying "two Black people were just shot in their backs as they walked away from police! This is not a parade!"
Marchers also repeated over and over: "If Black lives matter, prove it!", before briefly occupying a QFC, Safeway, and Uncle Ike's on 15th street.
They demand justice for Blake and Trayford Pellerin, who was killed by police in Lafayette, Louisiana on Saturday. Blake's family said today that he is paralyzed from the waist down from the gunshot wounds.
Protesters also want SPD's budget cut by 50%, using the funding for community public safety groups, and for Mayor Durkan to resign.
Durkan last week vetoed the city council's newest budget, which would have defunded SPD by one percent (in 2020). She said the cuts would invite lawsuits from the police union.
MONDAY, AUGUST 24
King Co. judge throws out county's new inquest rules
8 a.m. -- A King County Judge has thrown out the county’s new rules for inquests, ruling they violate a law enforcement officers’ right to due process.
In King County, inquests are used as fact-finding hearings when someone dies at the hands of law enforcement. But for years family members of people who died said that inquests did not look at whether the officers followed their agencies’ policies and training.
Two years ago, King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled changes to the process to include those questions. But King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector finds the new rules create a Kafkaesque process that is “stacked” against police officers. She has asked the Washington Supreme Court to review the issue.
Mayors of cities in South King County had challenged the rules and say they’re pleased with the judge’s decision. Meanwhile, the county faces a backlog of pending cases.
-- Amy Radil
THURSDAY, AUGUST 20
Auburn officer charged with murder in 2019 police killing, testing new deadly force legal standards
5:17 p.m. -- Auburn Police officer Jeffrey Nelson, 41, has been charged with second degree murder and first degree assault in connection with the 2019 shooting death of 26-year-old Jesse Sarey.
The case is believed to be the first of its kind charged under Washington state's Initiative 940, which eliminates a long-held legal standard of not charging officers in deadly force cases unless it can be proven they acted with "malice."
While an independent investigation of the shooting concluded in June, the King County Prosecutor's Office says it didn't reach a final charging decision until this month.
The review, conducted by the Port of Seattle Police Department's Valley Investigations Team, included forensic analysis of audio captured by a microphone Nelson was wearing, and video footage recorded by a dash cam in his cruiser and cameras outside of nearby businesses.
Nelson was not wearing a body-worn camera during the shooting.
"Our experts determined that Mr. Nelson did not follow his training in a number of ways, and those failures needlessly provoked the circumstances that led to Mr. Sarey’s death," Satterberg said in a written statement. "He did not de-escalate the situation. He did not wait for backup."
Nelson is the first police officer to be charged in King County — and likely the state — in a deadly force case since the passing of Washington's Initiative 940 by voters in 2018.
The new legal standard stipulates that the use of deadly force would be considered "reasonable" to prevent death or serious harm to an officer or civilians, in order to avoid prosecution.
Read more here.