Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, along with police chief Carmen Best and fire chief Harold Scoggins, held a press conference on Sunday addressing the rally that turned into a violent protest on Saturday.
Thousands hit the downtown streets in a peaceful rally honoring George Floyd, a Black man killed in police custody in Minneapolis.
After the rally, people took to the streets and began looting and vandalizing businesses and burning cars. At least 55 people were arrested.
"Coming together is a right. A right we all honor and cherish. Our First Amendment rights are fundamental to who we are as Americans. People came yesterday and were peaceful. I want to thank all of those who chose to exercise their right to protest peacefully. it's a cherished right that makes us better as a city and a country," Durkan said.
Durkan said that those who caused the violence were not doing so in the name of justice or racial equity.
"These were not the acts of allies, but rather those done out of the need for chaos and destruction and hate," Durkan said.
"I'm angry. I'm angry about the murder of George Floyd. I'm angry that people would come into the heart of our city to create the harm and destruction they did. I'm angry that those who came out peacefully were denied the right to do so because of those who came out to cause destruction," Best said.
Larger businesses like Old Navy and Nordstrom were looted. However, Best and Durkan said that many small businesses that were recovering from coronavirus closures were also severely hit, setting them back even further.
"I have not seen this in my entire career, and I've been here for 24 years," Best said.
In response to the violence, Durkan issued a mandatory curfew last night and another on Sunday. This curfew is in effect from 5 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday, June 1.
No arrests were made on Saturday as a result of violating the curfew. The curfew was created not for the peaceful protestors, but to clear the streets from those who were engaging in violent acts.
Durkan, Best, and Scoggins walked through the city early Sunday morning to take in the aftermath of the violence.
During the press conference, Durkan had to take a few moments to compose herself as seeing the destruction first-hand made them all emotional.
"It was not the Seattle I recognized," Durkan said tearfully.
However, she said seeing all the people who came from all over the area to help clean up downtown gave her hope.
Chief Best said she was "totally inspired" by what she saw from the community turning out to help clean their neighborhood and city.
“I’m totally inspired. It’s totally gratifying and so wonderful and heartening to see all of these people out here. Volunteers helping to clean up the destruction, and the graffiti, and all of the damage from last night,” said Chief Best. “I’m really hopeful that calmer heads will prevail today and they won’t come into our beautiful city and make it look like this.”
"We are not going to let those people take our city down," one woman who was cleaning up told Durkan on Sunday.
Heavy equipment will be brought into downtown to help with the larger cleanup projects and some streets will be closed to allow for that cleanup.
"I want to thank the people who came out to Seattle to protest peacefully. For people who continue to speak up and hold us accountable: thank you. For those who showed up to cause destruction and chaos... if you want to honor Mr. Floyd, that is not the way to do it," Durkan said.
Durkan said there will be a lot of reflection after action, so the city and its departments can determine what can be done better next time.
The curfew will be strictly enforced on Sunday night. Those who come out will be arrested.