SEATTLE — After weeks of escalating confrontations between protesters and federal authorities in Portland, Ore., a crowd of about 2,000 people mobilized in Seattle on Saturday, marching through the streets and clashing with the police.
Three police officers were injured, including one who was hospitalized with a leg injury caused by an explosive, and 16 protesters were arrested as of early evening, the police said.
Carrying signs such as “Feds Go Home” and shouting chants of “No justice, no peace,” the protesters stopped at the site of a future youth detention center and lit buildings there on fire. Some smashed windows of nearby businesses.
The police confronted the crowd in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, deploying flash grenades and pepper spray before they began taking people into custody.
Bipasha Mukherjee, 52, of Kirkland, Wash., said she has been protesting on the streets since May and said it was worrisome to her to see such aggressive tactics by the police.
“This is not the country I immigrated to,” said Ms. Mukherjee, who arrived from India more than 30 years ago. “It feels like we are rapidly becoming a fascist state and a police state.”
Michaud Savage of Seattle said the protests were aimed at both local authorities and the deployment of federal officers who have waged a crackdown against a long-running protest in Portland. Mr. Savage said the law enforcement tactics in Portland, which have included the use of tear gas and crowd-control munitions, were dangerous and inappropriate.
“It’s a very hard slide in an extremely violent direction,” Mr. Savage said as he washed his eyes of pepper spray and nursed a wound on his arm from a flash grenade.
The death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis in May ignited mass protests that drew millions to the streets in dozens of cities, but those demonstrations have waned in most cities.
Seattle and Portland, however, have seen extended demonstrations. Seattle protesters at one point laid claim to several blocks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and declared an autonomous zone. After a series of shootings there led the police to clear the area, protests had subsided.
Portland, meanwhile, has continued protesting, with some of the heaviest protests around federal buildings in the city. After President Trump issued an executive order to protect statues and federal property, the Department of Homeland Security deployed tactical teams to the city, beginning a series of clashes that have resulted in injured protesters, inspector general investigations and calls from local leaders for federal agents to leave.
Protest crowds in that city have swelled into the thousands, and demonstrations there were continuing. This week, federal officials deployed a tactical team to Seattle, and protesters cited that development as one reason for Saturday’s demonstrations.
While the Portland protests have centered in downtown, the demonstrations on Saturday roamed areas east of the downtown core, where the city’s federal courthouse is.