Protesters in Seattle threw rocks, fireworks and explosives at police officers during violent confrontations on Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police called the chaotic scene near its East Precinct station a “riot,” with some demonstrators breaking windows and setting fire to property. In June, Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered police to abandon the East Precinct station, which had been the site of almost daily confrontations between officers and people protesting the killing of George Floyd. At least 16 people were arrested on Saturday for either assaulting an officer, obstruction or failure to disperse. One officer was injured by an explosive, according to the department.
The protests came a day after a federal judge temporarily blocked a Seattle ordinance that would ban police from using tear gas, pepper spray and other less-lethal tools as crowd-control measures. The Seattle City Council unanimously passed the ban in June. It was supposed to take effect Sunday and would have coincided with demonstrations planned in the city in support of protests in Portland, Or. Seattle Chief of Police Carmen Best had said the law would leave her officers unable to protect property during violence. On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart issued a temporary restraining order requested by the Justice Department to block the new ordinance. Since 2012, Seattle’s police force has been under a consent decree and federal oversight after the Justice Department found that the police used excessive force and had a pattern of biased policing methods. Police Chief Carmen Best said said that because of the temporary restraining order, her officers would continue to carry pepper spray and blast balls, which are devices that create a loud noise and bright light when deployed and can contain chemical irritants.