A May Day march in Seattle turned violent on Friday when demonstrators threw rocks and wrenches at police, who responded by lobbing flashbangs and shooting pepper balls, police and media reported.
“This is no longer demonstration management, this has turned into a riot,” Seattle Police Captain Chris Fowler said in a statement.
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets Friday to participate in pro-worker, anti-police-brutality rallies, as well as one that was billed as anti-capitalist. Officers deployed flashbangs and pepper spray to try to get the crowd under control.
According to the Seattle Times, one protester broke a window and others threw rocks at police before law enforcement responded with flash bangs.
“As we continue to witness acts of violence from protesters, we urge folks on Capitol Hill to exercise caution,” said Mayor Ed Murray in a statement.
“Seattle Police are advising that business on Broadway and other Capitol Hill streets should take reasonable precautions to protect their employees and customers. Police will continue to work to protect and property in the area, and will make arrests when necessary.”
Three officers were injured at the scene, the Seattle Police Department tweeted, two of whom were hurt seriously. A total of fifteen people have been arrested across the city, police said.
Police also tweeted that an “explosive device” was thrown at officers and said the situation has escalated into a riot, and that police said demonstrators had damaged at least two dozen vehicles and lit garbage on fire. Images on social media also showed demonstrators smashing store windows.
For most of the day, the marches were peaceful even though protesters disrupted traffic at times. Demonstrators in cities across the country also used the occasion to rally against police violence.
In Baltimore, demonstrations were peaceful and even celebratory on Friday after prosecutors brought charges against all six officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries he suffered while in police custody.