World

Seattle Black Lives Matter clashes spark arrests, policemen injured

Biggest Black Lives Matter protest in weeks turns violent, resulting in 45 arrests and 21 officers injured

SEATTLE: Dozens were arrested and many police officers injured in clashes around Seattle's biggest Black Lives Matter protest in weeks on Saturday, police said, with a renewed energy sparked by violent clashes between activists and federal agents in Portland, Oregon.

Police said officers used non-lethal weapons in attempts to disperse the thousands of marchers in the late afternoon after some protesters set fire to the construction site for a King County juvenile detention facility and courthouse.

By late night on Saturday, police had "made 45 arrests in connection with today's riot in the East Precinct", the Seattle Police tweeted.

It said "21 officers sustained injuries after being struck by bricks, rocks mortars/other explosives. Most officers were able to return to duty. One was treated at a hospital for a knee injury".

Earlier, the police had said they were working to secure access for the city's fire department to the blaze, which it said was started by about a dozen people who were part of a large group of demonstrators.

President Donald Trump said on Thursday that he expanded the deployment of federal police to Seattle, enraging local officials and igniting anger among protesters.

"We saw what was happening in Portland and we wanted to make sure in our city we were standing in solidarity with other mums," said Ms Lhorna Murray, who attended on behalf of the Wall of Moms Seattle, replicating a tactic from the Portland protests where mothers, dressed in yellow, formed a human wall between protesters and law enforcement.

The tactics of federal officers in Portland have drawn the ire of local leaders and Democrats in Congress, who say those officers are using excessive force and complain of overreach by the Trump administration.

In Kentucky, a group of heavily armed Black protesters marched through Louisville on Saturday demanding justice for Ms Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed in March by police officers who burst into her apartment.

Scores of the demonstrators, carrying semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and clad in black paramilitary gear, walked in formation to a fenced off intersection where they were separated by police from a smaller group of armed counter-protesters.

The Black militia, dubbed NFAC, want justice for Ms Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician who died in a hail of gunfire when drug investigators bearing a "no-knock" warrant entered her Louisville home four months ago.

The leader of the NFAC group, John "Grandmaster Jay" Johnson, called on officials to speed up the investigation into her death.

"If you don't tell us nothing we going to think you ain't doing nothing," Mr Johnson said in a speech, according to the Louisville Courier Journal.

In Austin, Texas, one person was killed when several shots were fired amid a Black Lives Matter protest, on Saturday.

Footage posted on Facebook Live showed the moment when several shots rang out in the Texas capital as about 100 people marched and chanted, "Fists up! Fight back!"

Initial reports indicate the suspect was carrying a rifle and shot at the victim, who was in his car, police told a briefing. The suspect has been detained, they said. - REUTERS

WORLD