5 arrested as protesters take to Seattle streets, downtown malls

SEATTLE -- Seattle police arrested at least five demonstrators as several groups protested events on Black Friday. Meanwhile others enjoyed the holiday parade and festivities on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Some demonstrators pushed against officers at 7th and Pine as they moved from downtown Seattle to the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Police said they used pepper spray to disperse people away from the police line. Some demonstrators threw flares and used pepper spray, according to SPD.

Officials told Q13 FOX News that police set up barricades to block protesters from disrupting a Christmas tree lighting at Westlake Center at 5:00 p.m.

Protesters made their way up to the tree, but the lighting ceremony went on without a hitch.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray released this statement:

“While I understand the hurt and frustration that our city has experienced in the past days, this is a city that respects the rule of law. I support the First Amendment rights of protestors, but violence against property or police officers will not be tolerated in our city.”

Earlier in the day, a parade began at 9 a.m. in downtown Seattle with other family events scheduled afterwards. The morning was largely quiet, as protests were scheduled to begin at Westlake Plaza as early as 11 a.m., but not many were seen.

Around 1 p.m., a small group of protesters were downtown carrying signs in memory of Michael Brown, a 18-year-old Ferguson man shot by a police officer.

The number of protesters -- some anti-police and anti-capitalists -- gradually grew enough to block traffic by 1:30 p.m., police said.

A short time later, the protesters entered the mall.

Earlier Friday morning, Seattle Police Chief, Kathleen O'Toole, said families have nothing to worry about.

“We always have a lot of presence downtown the Friday after Thanksgiving," O'Toole said. "We’ll have a lot of our bicycle officers out and about. You’ll see many of them and uniformed police. It’s in the ordinary course of business we’d have them out anyway.”

This morning, several police officers were seen patrolling Westlake Plaza hours before the parade was scheduled to begin.

O'Toole said Seattle Police have a lot of practice with protests.

“Seattle Police Dept. does a really great job at protests. We’ve had over 300 protests this year. Prior to Monday, we only had arrests in two or three instances.”