The Associated Press
SEATTLE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced a 5 p.m. curfew for the entire city Saturday and Gov. Jay Inslee activated the National Guard after rioters torched police vehicles and spilled onto Interstate 5, forcing the freeway’s temporary closure through the central part of the Northwest’s largest city.
Thousands of people gathered in downtown Seattle in the rain to protest the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
A largely peaceful demonstration happened Saturday afternoon, while police deployed flash bangs to disperse crowds. Police also pepper-sprayed demonstrators who got close to police lines, and officers on bicycles pushed back several protesters.
The State Patrol closed both directions of Interstate 5 through the city between Interstate 90 and Highway 520. Protesters marched through the lanes of the freeway.
“The freeway is not a safe or appropriate place for demonstration,” State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a statement.
News footage showed at least one destroyed police cruiser, other vehicle fires and people breaking into retail stores and other businesses. A police spokeswoman, Sgt. Lauren Truscott, said some people were arrested, though she didn’t have an exact figure.
Durkan hastily announced a curfew to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and to last through 5 a.m. in response to the protests. She also issued an order declaring an emergency and an order banning weapons.
Because of the curfew, Coleman Dock is closed. There is no ferry service on Seattle-Bainbridge and Seattle-Bremerton routes.
Inslee said he had activated up to 200 members of the Washington National Guard in response to a request from the city to help protect property, as well as manage crowds and traffic.
Guard personnel will be unarmed and work under the direction of city leadership, the statement from the governor’s office said.
“The National Guard is on stand by to assist the Seattle Police Department as requested by Mayor Durkan,” Inslee said.
“They will only be utilized if absolutely necessary and we appreciate their efforts to help in this important work.”
Residents should remain in their homes “to the extent possible” and not travel in or through Seattle, said Durkan, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins in a statement released about 4:45 p.m.
Durkan and Best told a Friday evening news conference they were outraged by the death of Floyd, a black man who died while a white officer pressed a knee into his neck. They also implored protesters to be peaceful.
Durkan said the killing reflects the “deep and systemic racism” in the United States.