Police, Protestors And Pepper Spray At Seattle Pride Dust-Up

Seattle is known for its protest culture, so we’re disheartened to hear about possible police brutality in the Emerald City over Pride weekend.The Capitol Hill Seattle blog reported “a heavy presence of uniformed officers” in the nabe at a demonstration early Sunday morning, where the crowd was disbursed with pepper spray. Six people were allegedly taken into custody.

A tipster to the Seattle Stranger’s Slog recounts the situation:

What took place tonight was unnecessary. I understand that these cops were somewhat provoked by a group walking down the middle of the street after hours. However there was no traffic around. No matter what the media may say, there was no traffic impended by this group.

They swooped their cars in and pinched the group from the front and rear. Tensions were obviously high on the law enforcement’s side, hastily they pointed everyone to the side walk. The resistance the cops encountered when they opened their car doors to a group of protesters would get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. However, by singling out and attacking a small girl is uncalled for. I wonder if it was a ‘let’s make an example out of her sort of thing’.

Below, amateur video of the encounter:

This clip is taken out of context, but it appears the police were at least initially attempting to peacefully get the crowd, which was taunting and cursing at them, to disburse. In 2011, a much larger group roamed the area, inflicting damage to walls, windows and cars.

In a report filed on the Seattle Police Department Blotter, Detective Mark Jamieson wrote:

Just after midnight this morning a group began to assemble for a “flash mob”  at the corner of 12th and Madison. This was during the annual Pride Festival Weekend, so there were a lot of people out on the streets and a number of officers assigned to the event.  The group grew to about 40 people and then about 15 minutes later broke up, with most wandering north on 12th Avenue.  Shortly thereafter, the group reassembled on 13th Avenue and began marching westbound on East Pine Street towards 12th.  Once on 12th Avenue, the group continued north, walking in the street, and then east on Olive, toward Cal Anderson Park.  At approximately 12:40 am, there were reports of members of the group lighting off fireworks.

The group continued on to Broadway, still taking over the street.  Officers were now seeing members of the group knocking over road signs and dragging garbage cans into the street.  At about 12:45 am officers attempted to contact and detain an unidentified white female who was in the process of dragging a trash can into the street, but she eluded officers and ran back into the crowd.  The group then continued onto East Pike Street, walking eastbound, where they were met by a line of officers at 10th Avenue and East Pike Street.  The group stopped and began to dance and bang on drums.  Several in the group took the opportunity to yell at the officers.  Several in the crowd then began to place bandanas over their faces and officers overheard some in the group discuss breaking windows.

Apparently, officers believed some protestors were involved with “various anarchist groups,” though it’s not clear which ones—or what constitutes an anarchist group.

Shortly after 1:00 am, a police commander gave the group the order to get out of the street and back onto the sidewalk.  The street was cleared and the group left the street and assembled on the sidewalk.  A 25 year-old male, who was on the sidewalk, purposely stepped off the sidewalk back into the street and proceeded to walk directly to, and in front of, the police commander.  The man clicked his heels and stood at attention in front of the commander.  The commander informed the man he was under arrest, and directed officers to arrest him.  When the man was taken into custody, the group grew agitated and verbally abusive.

Officers saw an unknown man jump on top of a parked car and begin to stomp and jump up and down on it.  Officers ordered the man to stop and get down off the car.  The man refused, and pepper spray was used.  Several members of the group surged forward and a 24 year old male rushed forward and kicked the commander in the knee.  Pepper spray was again used on the suspect.  That man was arrested for assault.  As officers moved forward to assist the officer, a 30 year old man and a 31 year old woman immediately grabbed onto the man being arrested and attempted to pull him back into the crowd. The 31 year old female had been arrested earlier in the week for trespassing and is well known in the anarchist community.  The two were arrested for Hindering Law Enforcement.  A 29 year old woman was arrested for Pedestrian Interference and Obstructing, while a 22 year old woman was arrested for Pedestrian Interference during the disturbance.

All six suspects were transported to the East Precinct, where they were treated for the effects of pepper spray and later booked into the King County Jail for the various charges.

Was the Seattle Police Department using excessive force to curtail some excited protest marchers or was there legitimate concern for property damage and violence? It’s worth noting the Department of Justice has criticized the SPD’s use of pepper-spray where lesser force would suffice and the Seattle Police Department has begun a disciplinary investigation into possible misconduct by officers during the incident.

A rally in support of the protestors is planned for Friday night at Seattle Central. We’ll revisit this story as more information becomes available.

Below, photos from the Capitol Hill Pride Protest

Photos: J Seattle

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  • Minorkle

    I use a QWERTY keyboard. Am I a closet homosexual?

  • Clockwork

    Beware people who put bandanas over their face and claim they are on your side.

  • Steve Rider

    These guys chose to break the law, then they broke other laws, one or two or more chose to damage property.

    It seems the police were doing their job by enforcing the law. I see little basis for complaints about the police, but plenty of valid reasons for the arrests reported.

  • LongIslandGayPhotos

    From what I read above, as well as the out of context video it is impossible to tell who was right and who was wrong. I have a suspicion that in this instance BOTH sides were looking for trouble!

  • toren123

    Big, brave coppers! Haul out the pepper-spray! Try to provoke the crowd into doing something on which they can be charged, or at the very least legitimize your roughing them up. After all, things have been quiet and boring for you, and you need an opportunity to flex your muscles and play MACHO MAN. Of course, pepper spray isn’t very macho, is it? I wonder how many people have wondered about the average IQ among legal thugs like you?

  • Derek Williams

    “Disburse” means to pay – the word should have been “disperse”.

  • gary

    Give me a fucking break! Get out the street where you don’t belong. Why can’t people have fun without turning into self-centered a-holes?

  • Kele

    While police may have been agitated and on edge with the rash of bandana’d “anarchists” who like to show up at other people’s events to cause mayhem and property damage it’s become understandable. While we should be critical of any large police action I’ve seen way too many immediately attack the police for any arrest during protests. if the police account is accurate then there was likely few protestors arrested out of those present, and likely no excessive force. The maing aggitators described likely arent’ even gay and had nothing to do with Pride other than using the events as another reason to create havoc like they did earlier this year during immigration and other Memorial Day marches in Seattle.

  • Mitchell S. Gilbert

    I’m really pleased to see that most of the comments here are sympathetic to the dilemma the Seattle police found themselves in. When police are out of line, we don’t hesitate to point it out and we shouldn’t. It has to work both ways. “Gay Pride” has nothing to do with anarchy, breaking the law or assuming that being part of happy, celebratory crowd means that law or order are no longer necessary and police are excused from doing their job.

  • Spike

    Seattle holds it’s pride parade at night? Really? And why the bandannas over the faces? Did anyone at Queerty actually watch the video before posting it? Last I checked, the side walk is for walking the streets, not for walking, PD should have just let em walk in the streets and hope that one of em might get hit by a car.

  • ThirdofJuly

    There are queer anarchists. This isn’t some outside group. Everyone celebrates pride in their own way. Marching in the streets is just as effective at gaining rights as shopping for rainbow handbags at some festival. You people would have said the same shit about people on Christopher Street, but then where would that leave you?

  • Prince Michael

    My concern is that when I plan to get married in Seattle hopefully next year I will be able to. Setting an example to the community is at the best interest of all especially what I have planed both for Seattle and also for San Francisco and all of my dear friends who live the life I have longed for.

    Prince Michael (check it out as well)

  • dave

    Dirty far-left trash in their bandannas and faux-punk wear. None of them can string 5 words together without “fuck”. Cops should have beat them down.

  • Mitchell S. Gilbert

    @ThirdofJuly: of course you are right ThirdofJuly (what a courageous sn!). Without anarchy, none of us would have any respect or freedom, would we?


  • gary

    Really. Marching in the street dressed is effective? Seems like most of the posters disagree with ya.

  • Stuart

    I miss the good old days of rubber bullets and lead weighted batons. The anarchists were looking for trouble and its been linked to the LGBT movement. There march wasn’t making a statement for rights or freedoms, its a bunch of privileged ppl looking for a reason to be a victim. I fully support take back the street action and opposing authority, when it serves a purpose, what purpose was served here. Other than a story to tell the kids about when you were young you were such a rebel the cops pepper sprayed you.
    Getting pepper sprayed for a cause is very different than getting beat for the cause, with getting beat scars last a lifetime. Pepper spray lasts a night. How many of them would still have caused trouble knowing their arm would be broken.

  • shannon


  • Seaguy

    Make no mistake this was a bunch of anarchists who orchestrated this protest to occur on a busy Saturday night at 11 pm in an area with many bars so that people (many drunk) would join in on their “protest” and then they could disrupt traffic, bring the police and taunt them into using pepper spray. Then they scream brutality and homophobia because they are “queer”. They need to stop lying the only thing they wanted to do was break the law and cause trouble. They left a black mark on pride weekend so I hope they are happy.

    Seattle’s gay community is not that radical and in my 18 years living on capitol hill I have not seen this type of BS except from the anarchist’s who seem to have decided to make the hill their hang out lately.

    Real protests clearly have a message of what they are protesting and they don’tr do it at that hour! More should have been arrested.

  • Mediaevalgirl

    “impended” by traffic – you mean impeded, right? Does anyone bother to edit these articles? Along with “disbursed”, which as one person pointed out, was as in money, not people, it’s just crappy writing. The article was interesting but the wrong use of the language is just piss poor journalism.

  • ThirdofJuly

    It’s not that I think these tactics are necessarily effective, but I’m disturbed by the amount of people on here who are willing to throw our more militant gays under the train. Since when did we start siding with the cops, especially those using pepper spray on unarmed people. We in North Carolina just had a huge setback, just like California, Oregon, Ohio and about 35 other states with constitutional amendments against us. Clearly the law is not working in our favor. The people of Washington are going to vote AGAINST same-sex marriage in a few months (like they have in every other state that has had a referendum on gay rights), and I will come back on here and laugh about it. “That’s what those people get for trying to get marriage rights! They got what they deserved.”
    You don’t have to go out there and join them, but if it wasn’t for people like these kids out in the street, we wouldn’t move forward. They usually push trans and genderqueer issues that the rest of the rainbow seems to ignore. Please stop advocating police violence against our fellow gays.

  • Daez

    @ThirdofJuly: I must have missed the part where the police raided a gay nite club and then these people were forced into the streets and fought back against being arrested.

    I probably missed it because it was not there. The truth being, according to the video, the police were behaving in a peaceful manner just requesting that the people on the street use the sidewalks so that cars could use the street. This led to verbal bashing of the police officers who were still just quietly and peacefully forcing the crowd on to the sidewalk. When enough resistance was given, the police used non-lethal force to disperse the crowd. There were no deaths and few injuries. I really do not see at all where the police are at all at fault here.

  • Daez

    @ThirdofJuly: Glad to see you can tell the future when every major poll disagrees with you and Washington (the state) is actually gaining ground in the marriage war, not losing it, as the election nears.

    I get that you are asshurt that some big bad government officials pissed you off and now you feel the need to find fault with the entire government system, but the police do not make the laws they uphold them, so direct that anger at the legislative and judicial branches not the executive (except in the case of Christie in NJ).

    Oh, and I live in Ohio, and yes having a constitutional amendment sucked, but that was 2004. Times are very different now, and do not forget that somehow GWB managed to take Ohio that same year.

  • Stuart

    @ThirdofJuly: Unless the laws we broke were unjust and violated basic human rights, the queers have mostly supported the police. I will not bash the police for coming down hard on some dumb ppl for breaking the law in a non effective way for not reason. They had no message just seemed trouble for the sake of trouble. They deserved a bigger beating than a little pepper spray

  • Derek Washington

    These so called anarchists wouldn’t last a day without rules. I’ve seen them in action and would love to drop their wannabe asses off in watts for just one Friday night…

  • NikkiTaMere

    “Shortly after 1 a.m., a police commander ordered the group to get out of the street and back onto the sidewalk. The group then left the street and assembled on the sidewalk.

    At that point, a 25-year-old man who was on the sidewalk purposely stepped back into the street and proceeded to walk directly in front of the police commander. The man clicked his heels and stood at attention in front of the commander. The commander informed the man he was under arrest, and as officers took him into custody, the group grew agitated and began shouting verbal abuse and profanities.

    Then the scene became chaotic as a man jumped on top of a parked car and begin to stomp and jump up and down on it. Officers ordered the man to get down off the car, but he refused and pepper spray was used.

    Several members of the crowd surged forward and a 24-year-old man rushed forward and kicked the commander in the knee, police said. The man was pepper-sprayed and arrested on suspicion of assault.

    As officers moved forward to assist in the arrest, a 30-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman who is well-known in the anarchist community immediately grabbed onto the man being arrested and attempted to pull him back into the crowd. Those two were both arrested.”

  • Michael

    How exactly was this incident linked to Seattle Gay Pride? I certainly hope the mainstream media isn’t connecting the two events. I live near 23rd & Madison, when Chocolate City used to close, the entire club would move out into the center of Madison, traffic be damned. I never saw a single cop car, much less anyone getting pepper sprayed. So I find the police’s saying the people needed to get out of the street “so cars could use it” to ring a little bit of a convenient excuse, something that is enforced at their discretion. Not that anyone should be marching down the middle of a major street, but let’s be realistic SPD.

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