On Sunday, what began as a peaceful protest in Seattle devolved into violent riots, vandalism, looting, and arson. Antifa rioters tore a devastating path through the city, smashing windows at the municipal courthouse and at various businesses — including storefronts for Amazon Go, Starbucks, and Walgreens — they targeted both the West Precinct Police Station and the East Precinct Police Station (the site of the Capitol Hill
Autonomous Zone Occupied Protest last month). They fired mortar-style fireworks at both stations, causing a fire in the East Precinct station.
“According [to] the Incident Commander, individuals within this group appeared to be very organized and this appeared to be a very concerted effort at property damage of certain businesses and government facilities,” Seattle Police said in a statement.
“Arson/Bomb detectives along with members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are conducting the follow-up investigations related to the arson and the fireworks. Detectives will be following up on the reported property damage and looting incidents. This remains an active and on-going investigation,” the police added.
Antifa rioters ravage Seattle
According to local law enforcement, a peaceful protest began at Westlake Park at 10:30 a.m., yet about three hours later, another group showed up, wielding baseball bats. As the group (likely antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters) marched south, “individuals within the group broke windows and tagged buildings with paint. The group headed south to the Seattle Police Headquarters and Seattle Municipal Court where they broke windows and spray painted both buildings. The demonstration then marched northbound on Third Avenue, where some businesses were targeted by individuals with more smashed windows, looting, and graffiti on the walls.”
Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, shared footage showing “anarchist black bloc rioters in Seattle” attacking the Amazon Go store. One of the rioters attempted to block the videographer from filming the destruction, holding up a sign reading, “GOOD COPS QUIT.” As the videographer captures footage of a rioter spray-painting “Raze Amazon,” another rioter approaches the videographer, ordering him or her to drop the phone.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 19, 2020
The antifa rioters “eventually made it to the West Precinct and some individuals attempted to break into the building,” Seattle Police reported. “Protesters threw rocks and bottles at the officers who were outside defending the precinct. An unknown person or persons threw multiple large mortar-type fireworks at officers from a close range.”
Those fireworks caused serious damage. “Multiple officers were injured by the fireworks thrown at them. Two of the officers suffered lacerations and abrasion injuries while a third officer sustained burns to his neck area and needed to be treated by the Seattle Fire Department. He was later transported to the hospital. A total of twelve officers were injured.”
Then the Seattle Police describe tactics that would be demonized as “brutality” by those who shamefully carry water for the lawless destructive rioters. “Blast balls and pepper spray were used to stop the assault on officers. Officers arrested two individuals, one for assault and the other for theft.”
Police shared photos of the vandalism, including a graffiti message reading, “burn down this precinct” on the West Precinct.
Demonstrators went from Westlake Park to the Municipal Courthouse and then headed back north to the West Precinct…leaving behind a trail of property destruction. These are criminal acts, not peaceful protests. pic.twitter.com/7GYkDxAg9s
— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) July 20, 2020
Rioters marched on to Capitol Hill, “where individuals in the group committed more property damage and looting. A small fire was set inside one of the businesses after the windows were broken out. The fire was extinguished.”
The antifa rioters arrived at the East Precinct, where they proceeded to smash out the front windows. “A large, mortar-type firework was thrown inside the lobby of the precinct, causing a small fire. The fire was extinguished quickly. Officers located another unlit large mortar-type firework nearby.”
The riots injured at least a dozen police officers. Videos on social media showed the extent of the damage to local businesses.
Destruction in the rioters’ wake
Rioters spray-painted “Fyq SPD,” a profane attack on the Seattle Police Department, and “F*** Bezos” on the smashed windows of an Amazon GO Grocery store.
Breaking News: Seattle police say there’s been looting and property damage as protesters march in the streets today —Windows at Amazon Go Grocery store smashed at Belmont & Pike. @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/YC9NLUxpHM
— Michael Spears (@MichaelKIRO7) July 20, 2020
Rioters smashed windows and glass doors at a Starbucks and a Walgreens, as well.
— Michael Spears (@MichaelKIRO7) July 20, 2020
Police finally broke up the rioters at Cal Anderson Park, the site of CHOP.
While police insisted the riot was “very organized” and “very concerted,” it remains unclear exactly who organized it. Antifa is a largely disorganized movement, lacking a clear unifying leadership. However, former antifa agitators of CHOP likely played a key role. When law enforcement finally broke up CHOP, rioters threatened a “rude awakening” for the “pigs” responsible.
Perhaps this riot was an attempt to follow through on that threat.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.