Flashbangs, dispersal order given by police on day 9 of Seattle protests

SEATTLE -- Police used flash bang devices and pepper spray to disperse a crowd of protesters in Seattle Saturday night, the ninth consecutive day of George Floyd protests in the city.

It was initially unclear what caused the response from police. The Seattle Department said on Twitter about an hour later that "Individuals began throwing rocks/bottles/and explosives at officers. Several officers injured due to improvised explosives."

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best told Q13 News that six officers were injured and two of them hospitalized. Best said tear gas was not deployed, but an OC canister was used.

Images shared by SPD appeared to show a broken candle and some debris.

Just before the flashbangs, Seattle police were heard on loudspeakers warning protesters not to move the barricade set up on Pine Street at 11th Avenue.

Q13 News reporter Simone Del Rosario captured the moment that pepper spray was deployed, followed by flashbangs.

Less than an hour later, police on bikes were seen moving back toward the East Precinct allowing protesters closer toward 10th Avenue.

The mayhem in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood followed a large, peaceful demonstration earlier in the day with medical workers protesting against racism and police brutality.

It also came a day after Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best said they had imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.

Elsewhere in Seattle at Magnuson Park, a rally was taking place to remember Charleena Lyles.

Lyles was pregnant and a mother of four when she called the police to report a burglary in the summer of 2017. The responding officers shot and killed her in her home after police claim she charged at them knives.

A ninth consecutive day of protests over the death of George Floyd in Seattle began with a large crowd of medical workers demonstrating against racism and police brutality.

Thousands of doctors, nurses and others — many in lab coats and scrubs — marched from Harborview Medical Center to City Hall on Saturday morning. 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.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Saturday she was 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 written 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 protest 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.

The demonstrations in Seattle have been among the largest the city has seen in years. 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 Police Chief Carmen Best on Friday imposed a 30-day moratorium on the department’s use of one kind of tear gas.

During that time, the Community Police Commission, the Office of Police Accountability and the Office of Inspector General for Public Safety will review and update crowd control policies, including the use of pepper spray and deadly force techniques such as neck and choke holds, Best said. She and the mayor added that the ban could be extended if groups need more time for policy review.

The city 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 have been more peaceful than last weekend, when some small groups engaged in rioting and looting. The police have also been more restrained.

“I think the last two days have shown that you can have very large demonstrations in two parts of the city and that they can be conducted in peace and without any confrontations with police,” Durkan said.

On Friday, Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett banned his officers from using controversial neck restraints except when deadly force is called for.