Seattle imposes curfew again following violent protests

    Seattle (AP) - Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city would again have a curfew Monday evening following days of George Floyd protests that turned violent, with storefronts smashed and items stolen.

    At a news conference, Durkan said the curfew would begin at 6 p.m. and last until 5 a.m. There were curfews in Seattle on Saturday and Sunday nights as well. Durkan said most of the thousands of protesters were peaceful, but there was an element that engaged in “violence, looting and chaos.”

    Police Chief Carmen Best said a small number of protests “tore the city up” and caused “millions of dollars in damage.”

    Durkan said the damage was widespread Saturday, with 90 businesses in the city's International District alone affected. Authorities said 57 people were arrested Saturday.

    Gov. Jay Inslee has sent 400 National Guard troops to help Seattle contain demonstrations. And Inslee has activated the National Guard following vandalism and mass theft in stores and shopping malls in multiple cities following protests over the killing of George Floyd.

    Inslee had previously authorized 400 troops for Seattle and 200 troops for Bellevue. On Saturday night, people smashed downtown Seattle storefronts and stole items from many businesses, tossing mannequins into the street. On Sunday, there was looting in stores and shopping malls in Bellevue, Spokane, Tukwila and Renton.

    Inslee’s activation means more troops could be available to help control the unrest. The governor planned a Monday afternoon news conference to speak about the protests.

    “We must not let these illegal and dangerous actions detract from the anger so many feel at the deep injustice laid so ugly and bare by the death of George Floyd,” Inslee said in a statement late Sunday. “But we also will not turn away from our responsibility to protect the residents of our state.”

    Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle was closed Sunday afternoon because of protest activity, the second day in a row the main north-south freeway on the West Coast was shut down, and there was also widespread disruption in Bellevue, Washington.

    Bellevue Police said dozens of people broke into Bellevue Square, a large shopping mall. Officers entered the facility and chased people out. Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett said at an evening news conference that authorities learned earlier that a criminal gang planned activity in the city Sunday afternoon. He said there were widespread incidents of looting and assaults, and the criminal element “swelled very quickly.”

    “They were there to destroy,” Mylett said. “We welcome peaceful protest ... this is something different.”

    Mylett said he was disgusted at what happened to Floyd, who was killed when a Minneapolis officer knelt on his neck, but that violence overshadows legitimate protests.

    After a night of rioting in downtown Spokane, all Spokane County buildings on the courthouse campus were closed Monday.

    The Spokane County commissioners announced the closure Sunday night.

    That was after peaceful protests in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis devolved into a riot that saw Spokane law enforcement officers shooting tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd on Sunday night.

    There were no reports of serious injuries in Spokane.

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