OLYMPIA., Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee on Monday addressed the protests and riots that occurred across the state over the weekend.
Inslee said thousands of people who took to the streets of Seattle Saturday afternoon were peacefully asking for change following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.
However, he said the message of thousands was “hijacked” by groups of people not looking for change, but instead looking to cause destruction.
“The fact that people started fires that endangered human life in Seattle a couple of nights ago (was) totally unacceptable. Not constitutionally protected,” Inslee said.
He noted that many of the peaceful protesters were urging others to stop destruction, vandalism and more.
The governor said those responsible for the destruction in Seattle, Bellevue and other cities need to be criminally prosecuted.
“While we condemn that damage … we will not allow (it) to obscure the justice of the underlying protest,” Inslee said. “That the peaceful protesters effort to challenge all of us to raise our eyes on the prize to have a more just society. We will not allow that message to be diminished or obscured by the violence.”
Inslee said it was inspiring to watch the hundreds of volunteers who helped clean up in downtown Seattle Sunday morning. Similar clean up efforts were seen in Bellevue Monday morning.
“I saw 10-year-old girls sweeping up glass. I saw people scrubbing off walls,” Inslee said. “It was a visceral reaction of respect for their community and the desire to heal so we can get back to the job of demanding justice.”
To move forward, Inslee said people, including himself, need to continue to learn more about racial inequalities in the country and that people to listen to leaders in communities who are demanding change.
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