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6 SPD officers hurt, 18 protesters arrested in violent clash Sunday night in SoDo

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 8/18/2020 KOMO News Staff

SEATTLE -- Six Seattle Police officers were injured in a violent clash with anti-police union protestors Sunday night that left 18 demonstrators arrested.

It began around 7 p.m. with about 100 demonstrators marching from the International District, calling on the Seattle Police union to be dismantled.

The protesters, dressed in black and wearing gas masks, then headed to Seattle Police Office Guild headquarters in SoDo along 4th Avenue South, where tensions quickly escalated.

WATCH: Seattle Police released bodycam footage of the violent clash Sunday night

WARNING: Violence and expletives are captured in the video. Viewer discretion is advised.

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This comes a week after "SPOG" organized a “Back the Blue” protest in an effort to stop the city council from defunding the police department.

KOMO News was there when tensions escalated really quickly between police and protestors near the SPOG headquarters on 4th Avenue South.

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Police say someone in the crowd "set off a large explosive" around 10 p.m. and attempted to break out the window of a patrol car.

Officers ordered protesters to stay back and disperse before they could reach the SPOG headquarters. That's when people in the crowd began throwing rocks, bottles, and "multiple explosives" toward officers, police said.

A riot was declared and police used pepper spray and blast balls to disperse the crowd as it moved north.

Medics were called in to treat four offices who were injured in the clashes -- three officers suffered burn injuries and one officer who was hit in the eye with a rock, police said. One of the officers was hospitalized.

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The 18 protesters who were arrested have been booked into the King County Jail.

The clash came a week after the Seattle Police Officers Guild had organized a "Back the Blue" protest in an effort to stop the city council from defunding the police department.

The protesters said SPOG is the biggest obstacle to change within SPD and they will not stop pressing city leaders about defunding.

Last week, the Seattle City Council voted to slash SPD’s budget and up to 100 officers could be cut.

It’s far less than the 50% defunding mark protestors demanded, but councilmembers said they would work on getting to the 50% mark in the 2021 budget, which they will start working on next month.

Before the march, KOMO News spoke with Jim Fuda, a 30-year law enforcement veteran from CrimeStoppers, who says the police unions need to be invited to the discussion table about police reform and the impacts of defunding.

“It makes no sense, it’s reckless and what about the rest of our citizens in this city that needs protection?” said Fuda. “What happens if the police lose 100 officers, what is going to happen to the rest of the city when we need service and need help from them?"

Seattle Police said at least three officers were injured in the clashes and one officer who was hit in the eye with explosives.

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There are concerns about violence erupting week after week and if those arrested will be held accountable.

Yet, week after week violence and destruction have rocked the streets of Seattle—including Capitol Hill where businesses had busted out windows and tagged with vulgar graffiti this weekend.

KOMO News the King County Prosecutor’s Office how violent rioters are being held accountable.

Their office handles felony cases, while the city attorney's office handles less serious misdemeanors.

“You asked about: how can people destroy businesses and get away with it and the short answer is they can’t,” said Casey McNerthney with the King County Prosecutor’s Office.

So far—the King County Prosecutor’s office has charged more than 15 cases, including high-profile cases from CHOP, the death of protester Summer Taylor and some looters who robbed jewelry stores in Bellevue.

However, prosecutors said they're still waiting for a number of big cases to be referred to their office.

For example, prosecutors said they’re still waiting for cases to be referred to their office for the demonstration in Capitol Hill in July where 59 officers were hurt and the East Precinct had a hole blown in it with explosives, or the case where Seattle police said explosives and smoke bombs were found in van at protests in July.

“When those cases are referred to us, we will look at the totality of the evidence and we will charge those cases,” said McNerthney. “And we want the public to see the cases that we do charge and that we have charged already. Because when they see those cases, I believe they will see the distinction between someone who is non-violent and someone who is taking advantage of protests to commit crimes.”

KOMO News reached out SPD about where some of those investigations stand.

Police said it’s been a long process that takes time and investigators are still actively working those unsolved cases, following leads and gathering evidence.

Investigators have asked people to stay out of the area.

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Caption: KOMO

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