SEATTLE -- The cleanup has begun in downtown Seattle just hours after rioters took advantage of a peaceful protest to loot, burn and destroy police cruisers and businesses in downtown Seattle.
The curfew imposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan ended at 5 a.m. Sunday, allowing concerned downtown residents and devastated managers and business owners to come out and assess the destruction.
Q13 News reporter John Hopperstad said nearly every storefront near Westlake Center was shattered. At least 50 businesses in Seattle were damaged Saturday, 21 of which are in the Chinatown-International District.
But by early Sunday morning, volunteers showed up to start cleaning up the mess.
There's another curfew in effect from 5 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. This does not apply to people who are going to work.
A largely peaceful protest began about noon Saturday in response to the death of George Floyd in Minnesota, but a few hours later a separate group interrupted the protests and started burning, looting and destroying everything in sight. At least 27 people were arrested on charges including assault, looting and arson.
“They weren’t coming down there because they were concerned about racial equity, they were coming down here to destroy people’s stuff," one downtown resident said. "What did they do to deserve this? I don’t get how this makes anything better.”
Jon Scholes, president of the Downtown Seattle Association, said downtown businesses have been damaged in past protests, but never to this extent.
Many of the businesses that were targeted have been closed for months because of the pandemic and were already facing extreme financial hardship.
Seattle police said two rifles were stolen out of a police patrol car and have since been recovered.
Multiple people, including protesters and police officers, were injured during the riots. A child reportedly was sprayed with pepper spray while police were trying to disperse the crowds. Video shows bystanders pouring milk on the distressed child's face.
There were similar protests across the nation as civil unrest continues following Floyd's death in police custody, though some remained more peaceful than the riots in Seattle.
Local and national leaders are now concerned that the mass gatherings in the streets will lead to a spike in coronavirus cases.
“If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a COVID test this week," the mayor of Atlanta said Sunday.