Demonstrators in Seattle on Friday smashed store windows and shouted threats at people filming them as they moved through a portion of downtown.
No police officers were present, according to video footage captured by live streamers on the scene, though officers showed up later.
The Seattle Police Department didn’t respond to an inquiry on Saturday.
It’s not clear which group or groups organized the demonstration, but most of those who participated were clad in all-black, with masks and other accessories. The style was similar to that of members of Antifa, a network of groups that holds far-left, anarcho-communist views and wants to abolish police and prisons.
Videos showed the mob moving steadily down the street, pausing periodically to smash parking meters, take hammers to an ATM, and hurl objects through glass windows at various stores.
The crowd regularly chanted, “I don’t see [expletive]! I don’t know [expletive]!”
Rioters threatened people they saw filming them. One female participant, who was recording much of what unfolded, insisted to bystanders that the group wasn’t affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
Later in the evening, a group of police vehicles began moving down a street towards the mob. They were hampered by a group of vehicles moving slowly in front of them, blocking direct access to the crowd. Police officers were seen on video slashing the tires of at least one of the vehicles.
Demonstrators also shoved garbage cans and at least one dumpster into the street, forcing officers to exit a vehicle to move the objects out of the way.
Seattle has faced unrest since late May and dealt with a weekslong occupation of an approximately 9-block area known as “CHOP” that ended after several deadly shootings.
Rioters used Cal Anderson Park, which was part of the zone, as a staging ground on Friday.
In an interview with one live streamer at the park, one participant said the current “national crisis” moves him to take part.
“I don’t understand why more people aren’t throwing wrenches into the gears of the system. You know that the system is defunct. Why aren’t you [expletive] [expletive] up? I don’t understand it,” he said.
A similar evening of chaos on July 22 left significant damage at multiple businesses.
A police spokesman at the time told The Epoch Times that the agency’s primary focus is life safety.
“When people damage property and the SPD moves in, there’s a likelihood that someone—whether an officer or someone else—could be injured. The SPD is trying to avoid that. However, this doesn’t mean that suspects in crimes won’t be arrested at a later date,” he said in an emailed statement when asked why police officers didn’t intervene.
“We are trying to find the safest ways to enforce the laws without making the situation worse. If lives are at risk, you can expect a swift response by the Seattle Police Department.”
Three days later, rioters clashed with police, leaving 59 officers injured and a construction site severely damaged.
City council members, who are all Democrats except for one socialist, voted last week to cut nearly $4 million from the police department’s budget, prompting the resignation of the city’s first black female police chief.
Lawmakers argue the money is better spent on addressing homelessness and other issues they say will make a bigger impact on public safety.
On Thursday, video footage showed demonstrators entering residential areas and demanding white people give up their homes for black people.
A group of business owners and residents who live or work in or near the formerly occupied zone sued the city in June, arguing officials failed to restore order and protect the residents and property owners.
Other businesses are preparing to leave the city, or have already decided to close shop.
Amazon asked workers this week where they would prefer to work in the suburbs. The company’s downtown offices were vandalized and damaged during unrest last month.
The owners of Steepologie Teas told a reporter that they’re closing their downtown location because they feel at risk due to the recent increase in violence.
Daniel Carlson, co-owner of a business in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, just blocks from where the so-called autonomous zone was, wrote in an op-ed in the Seattle Times that his store was looted on July 22.
“On our way to the store that night, after looters stole more than $30,000 in goods, we passed 20 police officers on bikes standing around. Once we investigated the damage, the police department told us that the City Council and the mayor had limited their ability to manage crowds, so their hands were tied,” he wrote, taking aim at city leaders for an alleged lack of leadership.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat, is facing the prospect of being recalled. Durkan filed an appeal to the state Supreme Court late Thursday, requesting justices block a lower court ruling that allowed the petition to move forward.
A spokesperson for Durkan told The Epoch Times in an email that the mayor “has consistently acted to protect the public health and safety of residents during the pandemic, economic devastation, and demonstrations for justice.”