by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:
SEATTLE - Seattle police say they arrested three men as hundreds of demonstrators and counter-protesters converged downtown Seattle one day after violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The rally organized by the conservative pro-Trump group known as Patriot Prayer — and a counter protest aimed at standing against hate — were planned for Sunday.
A barricade separated the groups of protesters in downtown Seattle. Police officers stood by dressed in black, riot gear. Police said they used pepper spray and blast balls to disperse crowds after fireworks were thrown at officers.
Those arrested were a 40-year-old man for obstruction, a 37-year-old man for assault and a 25-year old-man for assault.
"Solidarity met by hate" protesters
It all began peacefully enough as hundreds of activists stepped off from Denny Park just before 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
Counter protesters included members of the Veterans for Peace, Socialist Party, Washington Federation of State Workers and other groups.
Counter-protesters marched from Denny Park through downtown Seattle to Westlake Park, but many of those protesters were prevented from reaching the “freedom rally.”
But some counter-protesters did make it.
During the rally, some of the demonstrators began trying to run past Seattle police. When that didn't work, they tried taunting the officers with silly string. As the crowd surged toward police, they were doused with pepper spray.
Council member Mike O'Brien expressed frustration over the crowd being kept away from Westlake Park.
"Why weren't the demonstrators not allowed to get to Westlake Park?" O'Brien said. "I don't know what the call was. I'm not in a position to second guess that at the moment." He added he would like to find out why police prohibited the crowd from reaching Westlake Park.
Many marchers said they were there to simply take a stand, especially after what happened in Charlottesville.
"They are missing out on the love that exists here on the other side," said Rev. Priscilla Paris Austin, pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in South Lake Union. "If they can push themselves through to see past their fear, they can find the love that exists here for them as well."
'Patriot Prayer' demonstrators
The pro-Trump group "Patriot Prayer" gathered for a rally in Westlake Park that it billed as in support of freedom and free speech.
On its Facebook page, the Patriot Prayer groups posted:
“Seattle is running our state with a pedophile as a mayor. The West Coast has slowly been infected with communist ideologies throughout our entire culture. It is a belief that the individual is weak and that we are all victims. This is the lie of the century. No matter who you are, we are all amazing people with the ability to do anything that we put our minds to. These liberal strongholds run off of hatred and negativity. Patriot Prayer will bring in a positive message to Seattle that the people are starving for..”
Patriot Prayer’s first speaker stated a message from the organizers; that the incident in Charlottesville was an act of terrorism and should be denounced, and that white supremacists were not welcome at their event. He called for peace and love and said anyone who attended for racist reasons should leave. He then said that Seattle and America’s values are inclusive values. His message was met by boos by some in the crowd.
Time-stamped updates as events happened Sunday
The latest on the "Freedom Rally" put on by 'The Patriot Prayer', a conservative group, and the "Solidarity Against Hate" counter-protest in Seattle. All times local.
The scheduled event at Westlake Park has concluded. Police will remain in the area for the time being.— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 13, 2017
Seattle Police have made an arrest at 5th and Pine.
Police have made an arrest at 5th and Pine. More details to follow.— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 13, 2017
An update from the Seattle Police Department:
Police continue to maintain a presence at a separate event at Westlake Park.— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 13, 2017
Demonstrators are marching back to Denny Park, according to the Seattle Police Department.
Demonstrators are marching back to Denny Park. Some in the crowd are throwing items at the officers who are providing traffic control.— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 13, 2017
The Seattle Police Department has issued a Dispersal Order at 2nd and Pine. Police also have confiscated weapons, and have made arrests. The number of arrests is unknown at this point.
Dispersal order issued at 2 & Pine. Please leave/avoid the area. Police confiscated these weapons & have made arrests. pic.twitter.com/AzxscIg1tQ— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) August 13, 2017
The "Solidarity against hate group has marched from Denny Park to Westlake Park where the conservative "Freedom Rally" group is located.
One of two groups that planned to march in downtown Seattle Sunday has said the group will not march, but gather in light of the violence that erupted at a Charlottesville, Va., rally Saturday.
The Patriot Prayer, a conservative, pro-Trump group, will gather at 2 p.m. at Westlake Park.
Opponents, which include members of the Veterans for Peace, Socialist Party, Washington Federation of State Workers and other groups, had planned to march after the Patriot Prayer group originally announced it would march in Seattle on August 13. They will gather at Denny Park at 1 p.m.
The Patriot Prayer group had touted the event as a “Freedom Rally”; opponents of their messaging say the group is homophobic, racist and bigoted.
The group has been criticized for inciting violence at recent gatherings in Portland and Vancouver, B.C. The Columbian newspaper recently did a profile on the group's lead, Joey Gibson.
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