Police in Seattle used flashbang grenades and pepper spray Saturday against protesters who set fire to construction trailers outside a youth jail, amid a wave of public anger over President Donald Trump’s planned “surge” of federal agents into major cities.
The sounds of repeated small detonations rang out in the streets of the city in Washington state, and smoke rose from an area where demonstrators had set fire to trailers by a construction site for the youth detention facility, an AFP reporter observed.
Demonstrators slashed car tires and smashed trailer windows.
Police in riot gear faced off against the demonstrators, some of whom held up umbrellas against falling pellets of pepper spray.
The Seattle Times newspaper quoted police as saying 16 people were arrested on suspicion of assault against officers, obstruction and failure to disperse.
The latest spasm of violence came after police and federal agents fired tear gas and forcefully dispersed protesters further south in Portland early Saturday, also in anger over Trump’s heavily-criticized “surge” of security forces.
The city, the biggest in the state of Oregon, has seen nightly protests against racism and police brutality for nearly two months, initially sparked by the death of unarmed African American George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota.
Portland is also a stage for the highly controversial crackdown by federal agents ordered by Trump—one that is not supported by local officials there, and which many say smacks of authoritarianism.
Civil unrest was not only confined to Portland. On Saturday, three members of a black militia were shot in Louisville, Kentucky at a Black Lives Matter protest, local media reported, citing police. Their injuries were not life-threatening.
The protest, to demand justice for a black woman who was killed by police as she slept in her home, drew members of the black militia and a rival far-right militia, with the heavily armed groups facing off while separated by riot police.
Trump, who is campaigning for re-election in November on a platform of “law and order,” announced on Wednesday a “surge” of federal agents to crime hotspots including Chicago, following an increase in violence in the nation’s third-largest city.
Agents deployed there will partner with local law enforcement, not riot control forces as seen in Portland.
Local officials have warned they would draw the line at any Portland-style deployment.