UPDATED: "This is not us": Spokane mayor orders curfew as police try to disperse crowd; officials ask governor for National Guard

click to enlarge Demonstrators yell at the county courthouse. - YOUNG KWAK
Young Kwak
Demonstrators yell at the county courthouse.

UPDATED 9:41 PM SUNDAY: Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and Police Chief Craig Meidl called a short late-night video-streamed press conference at 9:15 pm to announce a downtown curfew until 5 am tomorrow.

Together, they praised the peaceful protestors earlier from the afternoon. Woodward credited local NAACP president Kurtis Robinson from the local NAACP for helping de-escalate the situations and law enforcement for their restraint — even kneeling in solidarity with George Floyd. 

click to enlarge Protesters run as police use tear gas earlier this evening. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Protesters run as police use tear gas earlier this evening.

But after 6 pm, Woodward said, the climate of the protest changed. 

“This is not Spokane,” she said. “This is not who are we are. These are people who have stayed behind or are here only to cause trouble. We are seeing our downtown businesses’ windows broken. We are seeing looting at several businesses. And we are seeing individuals who refuse orders to disperse. This is not us.” 

Meidl said a group of about 500 left the courthouse protest and started walking to the downtown area. But once the protesters got down to the mall downtown, some began looting buildings and breaking windows. 

“We’ve had officers that have had objects thrown at them. We have officers that have been assaulted as well. We still have several hundred people who are refusing to disperse,” Meidl said. “We’re asking folks to stay out of downtown.” 

click to enlarge A worker boards up windows at the downtown Williams-Sonoma, hoping to deter vandals. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
A worker boards up windows at the downtown Williams-Sonoma, hoping to deter vandals.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward has enacted a curfew in downtown Spokane until 5 am tomorrow morning. The order is in effect from Division to Maple and Fifth to Boone. In the city's statement, officials distinguished between protesters who had rallied in the afternoon and done so peacefully and what they are identifying as a "second, separate group" that they say "become aggressive downtown after the local protest largely ended."

Additionally, Spokane County commissioners and the sheriff have contacted the governor's office requesting assistance from the National Guard.

click to enlarge A man breaks a window at the Wells Fargo building on West First in downtown and is chased away by protesters. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
A man breaks a window at the Wells Fargo building on West First in downtown and is chased away by protesters.

Spokane police sent out an alert shortly before 8 pm, reporting a civil disturbance in the downtown core. The Nike store had been looted, and police began to focus on protesters in Riverfront Park. Staff reporter Samantha Wolhfeil and staff photographer Young Kwak are reporting from the scene as the situation continues to develop.

EARLIER: Thousands of protesters gather in downtown Spokane after George Floyd's death; some police officers kneel in solidarity

Thousands of protesters flooded into downtown Spokane this afternoon to call attention to police violence after George Floyd, an unarmed 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis, died on Monday after a white officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck.

Local organizers have urged protesters to remain peaceful. In other communities, including Seattle, protests have turned into riots with looting and violent confrontations with police. Gov. Jay Inslee has activated members of the National Guard in response to a request from the city of Seattle.

Spokane’s demonstration started today with a gathering near the Red Wagon in Riverfront Park. Devon Wilson, with the local NAACP, addressed the crowd: "I am horrified that this would happen. If a man wants to kill me, that’s his problem. But if he has the power to lynch me, that’s my problem. ... We are here today to say no more. No more. Never again."

Later, people marched from Riverfront Park to the Spokane County Courthouse, where the crowd gathered behind a police-tape line with chants of “black lives matter” and other calls for justice.

Shortly after, people pushed through the tape to go talk with officers who were holding a line near the Public Safety Building. Many were shouting, upset that officers were already in tactical gear for the peaceful protest.

“There is no riot here, why are you in riot gear?”

After another group of officers in more extensive tactical gear formed another line, the crowd got loud, shouting more, and eventually the officers retreated back into the courtyard, with the crowd soon to follow.

For more than an hour, the crowd kept shouting in bursts, chanting phrases like “his name was George Floyd,” “White silence is violence” and “Black lives matter.”

Some demonstrators lay prone on their stomachs with their hands behind their backs. Later, one young man of color moved along the line, looking each officer in the face and saying, “Eye to eye, I wanna let you know I love you and I appreciate you. Thank you for your service. Please don’t kill my people.”

The crowd was still holding in place by 4:15, a few hours after the 2 pm protest started. When some officers kneeled in solidarity with protesters, the crowd erupted in cheers.

click to enlarge Some local officers kneeled in solidarity with protesters outside the county courthouse. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Some local officers kneeled in solidarity with protesters outside the county courthouse.

Earlier scenes from the protest:
This story is developing and we'll continue to post updates.

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About The Authors

Jacob H. Fries

Jacob H. Fries is the editor of the Inlander. In that position, he oversees editorial coverage of the paper and occasionally contributes his own writing. Before joining the paper, he wrote for numerous publications, including the Tampa Bay Times, the Boston Globe and the New York Times. He grew up in Spokane Valley...

Young Kwak

Young Kwak is a photographer at the Inlander. He has worked on stories ranging from silver mining and cattle ranching to car racing and backyard wrestling, learning a lot about the Inland Northwest in the process...

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...