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Sun May 31, 2020, 11:37 AM

City of Seattle: Responding to the Weekend Protests in Downtown Seattle

I'm reaching out to address the events that occurred during the weekend demonstrations in downtown Seattle, which have led me to issue three Emergency Orders to protect the health and safety of our residents.

Earlier this week, an unarmed Black man named George Floyd was murdered by police officers in Minneapolis. His tragic death is another recent incident of many that have resulted in the death of an unarmed Black American. It is right that the officer who killed Mr. Floyd was charged and will be prosecuted, and I believe the United States Department of Justice should also begin an investigation.

I have made clear that those standing by and failing to stop the actions should also bear responsibility. Itís up to all of us to fight for justice and equity and protect our vulnerable communities.

Today, community members across Seattle came together to grieve, to protest and to commit themselves to the cause of justice. Coming together is a right we all honor and cherish. For hours today, individuals marched and gathered peacefully. They grieved and built community that is so necessary during these trying times.

However, late this afternoon, some demonstrations swiftly turned violent and led to multiple fires being intentionally set downtown. In addition, demonstrators threw lit fireworks into peaceful crowds, Molotov cocktails were thrown into cars, and individuals threw boulders and bricks into dozens of windows.

I understand the immense rage, grief, and sense of betrayal felt by not only our community, but communities across our country this weekend. However, the escalated, destructive, and violent incidents that took place during today's demonstrations cannot, and will not, be allowed to continue. They jeopardize the health and safety of all those involved, from the demonstrators, to our first responders, to civilians just passing by.

To protect the health and safety of our residents, after consulting with both Chief Best and Chief Scoggins, I have issued the following Emergency Orders:

A Proclamation of Civil Emergency in Seattle related to the downtown demonstrations;

An Order prohibiting the use of weapons, both formal, like firearms, and informal, like pipes and clubs, throughout the city; and

An Order to establish a 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew, which will be in effect tonight and tomorrow night.

Right now, Iím asking residents to stay home to the extent possible and adhere to the curfew. Our ability to demand justice and hold each other accountable doesnít stop because of a curfew. I hope that we treat each other with the kindness and compassion that we all deserve during this unprecedented and trying moment in our history.

You can find an FAQ document about the curfew and my emergency orders here.

Chief Best and I also requested 200 unarmed National Guard personnel from the State of Washington, and the request was granted by Governor Inslee. National Guard members will not be armed and will assist with protecting infrastructure and traffic and crowd management. Their primary role is help with the safe movement of people and ensure that people have the right to peacefully demonstrate. We expect some members to deploy this evening.

These are already difficult times, with COVID-19 keeping us physically distant from one another at a time when our nation needs to come together. Iím reaching out to let you know that these measures have been taken to keep everyone safe.

I think we will see the message of destruction and chaos is not as strong as the message of hope, love, and peace.

Please stay safe and healthy.

Jenny A. Durken

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