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5 Arrested During Seattle Protest Against Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

Five people were arrested during a Seattle protest against the decision by a grand jury not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

A Peaceful Start

The event began peacefully Monday evening as the crowd gathered at Westlake Park and began marching around 6 p.m.. Calling for “justice now,” several dozen people took to the streets, presuming the outcome even before the grand jury’s decision was announced. 

Cynthia Wetzel, who helped organize the event, said the protesters wanted to make a stand against police brutality.

“We want people — a conscience — of all backgrounds to stand together around this very historic moment, because people in Ferguson have been standing up all along. They’re still standing up,” she said.

At one of the several intersections where the group lingered, protestor Feanette Black Bear stood facing a small line of cops, facing east.

"Towards Missouri. My direction is that way tonight," Black Bear said.

Emotions Swell As Crowd Grows Larger

After the announcement, the marchers merged with another group that had gathered at Seattle Central College and headed to the Central District. 

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Credit Kyle Stokes
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As the crowd swelled to hundreds large, so did emotions. One protester set off fireworks near Broadway Avenue. But others expressed anger over the "co-opting" of the event by those intent on clashing with police, and discouraged such actions. 

Some of the protesters later tried to walk onto Interstate 5 at Seventh and James, said Seattle police, adding the crowd lit flares and threw bottles, rocks and a knife. Police, using pepper spray and flash bang grenades, tried to block the marchers from gaining access to the interstate, but a small group broke through. Officers shut down a stretch of the roadway to round up the protesters.

Police arrested five people: two for obstruction, one for failure to disperse and one for reckless endangerment. The fifth person, who was armed with a handgun, was arrested on a weapons violation.

Mayor: 'We In This City Are Listening To You'

Earlier Monday, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray activated the city's emergency operations center in case the situation grows more volatile. The mayor also issued the following statement addressed to "young African American men in Seattle": 

"While we do not have the answers today, we in this city are listening to you. Your city hears you. And your city loves you.

 

In this hour of pain, your city is absolutely committed to moving forward with you, together, towards greater peace and greater justice.

 

My message today to all Seattle residents is to ask that we all reach out to our neighbors — across racial and cultural lines in particular — commit to a promise of making our city a better place."

Kyle Stokes covers the issues facing kids and the policies impacting Washington's schools for KPLU.
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