Protesters damage East Precinct and various Starbucks storefronts

by Elizabeth Turnbull

During a protest against ICE on Sunday, July 19, protesters broke the windows of the East Police Precinct and of various Starbucks cafes and other stores on Capitol Hill, looting and tagging some stores. Earlier that day, police used blast balls and pepper spray on protesters in response to projectiles.

Three hours after a peaceful protest against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began in Westlake at roughly 11 a.m. on Sunday, a second group carrying baseball bats joined the protest before the protesters marched to the West Precinct, tagging and breaking windows of the Seattle Police Headquarters and Seattle Municipal Court before arriving at the precinct, according to the police blotter.

At the West Precinct, police say protesters threw projectiles including rocks, bottles, and fireworks at officers stationed in front of the precinct, causing two officers to suffer “lacerations and abrasions,” and leading one to be transported to the hospital after being burned on his neck. According to the blotter, twelve officers in total experienced unspecified injuries.

In addition to arresting one individual for assault and another for theft, the police say they used blast balls and pepper spray on protesters. Footage from Sunday shows gray clouds of what may be pepper spray outside the precinct as protesters moved away from the building and blast balls are heard in the background.

Following the heavy use of tear gas and flash bangs against protesters in May and June, a federal judge and the city council have banned the SPD, with an ordinance that will take affect in later July, from the use of “tear gas, blast balls, and other crowd control weapons against peaceful protesters,” according to a Seattle Times article.

After leaving the West Precinct, the marchers made their way toward Capitol Hill at around 4 p.m., chanting, “No Justice! No Peace!” while turning over portable street signs and flower boxes, with some protesters tagging nearby buildings. After reaching 1124 Pike St., the site of the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, protesters began breaking windows of the Starbucks store with what appeared to be metal objects.

At roughly 4:30 p.m., protesters left the reserve and headed toward the East Police Precinct, chanting, “I don’t see shit, I don’t know shit,” while shattering the windows of several stores including an Amazon Go and Walgreens store located on Capitol Hill, in addition to the Starbucks stores on Pike and Broadway, and Broadway and E Denny Way, where a small basket was lit on fire, which bystanders quickly put out.

It is not certain why the protesters chose to damage multiple Starbucks store fronts, on Sunday. However, a separate protest last week, which did not result in property damages, advocated that the coffee giant be boycotted over its donations to the Seattle Police Foundation (SPF) and the fact that a Starbucks representative used to be on the board of the SPF. Starbucks says these funds supported the 2019 Banquet Gala and implicit bias training for Seattle police officers.

Upon arriving at the East Precinct at roughly 5:40 p.m., some protesters climbed the fences surrounding the building and ultimately used objects to shatter the windows of the precinct that face Pine St.

While the police blotter says someone caused a small fire in the precinct after throwing  “a large, mortar-type firework,” into the lobby, a video posted on social media that appears to be security footage from inside of the precinct, shows a firework being thrown into the building and sparking for a few seconds before fizzling out, with no fire ensuing. It is unclear if the objects referred to by SPD and that seen in the footage are the same.

Protesters left the precinct after law enforcement appeared on either side of the intersection of Pine and 11th Ave. at roughly 6 p.m. After gathering in Cal Anderson Park to debrief and talk about future protests, the group separated and the protest ended.

Liz Turnbull is a Seattle-based journalist.

Featured image by Susan Fried