SEATTLE (AP) – More than 200 protesters, some chanting “Black Lives Matter!” tried to disrupt Black Friday shopping and downtown Seattle’s traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Police turned out in force, arresting five people, and a downtown mall closed early.
The tree was lighted on a rainy Friday evening. Shortly before 6 p.m., Seattle police turned shoppers away from the downtown Westlake Center mall, saying it was closed for the night. The mall had been scheduled to stay open until 9 p.m.
In a statement, Mayor Ed Murray said while he supports the protesters’ First Amendment rights, “violence against property or police officers will not be tolerated in our city.” Police said arrests included people accused of assaulting officers and damaging an officer’s bicycle.
Demonstrators are protesting this week’s grand jury decision in Missouri not to indict a police officer who fatally shot a black teenager.
Protesters at one point staged a “die-in,” lying down on the floor inside the Westlake Center mall. They also protested outside, blocking streets and intersections near Westlake Park and marching through city streets.
Police say both officers and demonstrators used pepper spray.