Tension escalates during Seattle police protest

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by KING5.com

KREM.com

Posted on February 19, 2011 at 9:47 AM

SEATTLE -- Protesters took to the streets again Friday night in a demonstration against police brutality. But this time, the tension escalated with protesters engaging police and officers responding with pepper spray.

It was the second march through Seattle since Wednesday, when King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced he would not file charges against Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk. Birk shot and killed John T. Williams, a native woodcarver, last August.

"Arrest Birk now," some protesters chanted.

The demonstrators halted traffic as they walked from one end of downtown to another, chanting "No justice, no peace, no racist police!" They were followed closely by numerous police officers on bicycles, horseback and on foot.

It seemed some protesters came ready to pick a fight with police. When a faction tested the police line, bicycle officers opened up with pepper spray. Officers also moved in after some rocks and bottles were lobbed at them. A patrol car window was also broken out.

The crowd stopped in front of the King County Jail, headed southbound toward Pioneer Square, then circled back toward Westlake Center before heading to Capitol Hill. There were reports of protesters lying in the middle of the road at 5th Avenue and Pine Street.

"I don't believe that this is actually going to accomplish anything," said one protester. "but, at least people are doing something."

Police said they were keeping an eye on one core group of protesters who seemed to be there just to instigate.

Another demonstration on Wednesday night lasted a couple of hours, but no damage had been reported.

Although Satterberg said he could not charge Birk under state law, a Seattle Police Department review board determined the shooting was unjustified. Birk resigned Wednesday afternoon.

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