Barb and I live in Bellevue. Several miles and the other side of a large lake (Lake Washington) from Seattle. Mob violence is almost common in Seattle and has been for at least 20 years.
We’ve never seen or heard of riots and looting in Bellevue. That changed yesterday:
Bellevue declared a civil emergency throughout the Eastside city and imposed a curfew Sunday evening for downtown in response to protests that began in the afternoon and turned violent after groups broke into the city’s high-end malls and started stealing items.
The crowds and looting prompted Mayor Lynne Robinson to request assistance from the National Guard for the first time in at least 30 years, and a warning from Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett that anyone caught not adhering to the curfew would “go to jail.”
The protests over police misconduct, triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, have seized larger metro cities, including Seattle, but surprised Bellevue, which, as a city of about 148,000 residents, traditionally sees fewer instances of street activism. Gov. Jay Inslee activated the National Guard in response to the request, with up to 200 unarmed troops to assist the city’s officers.
“They became a force, a force of destruction,” Mylett said at a news conference Sunday evening. “They were not there to protest the death of George Floyd, the tragedy of George Floyd. They were there to destroy.”
Several people broke into Bellevue Square and stole items from the mall’s stores, according to the police department. Neighboring businesses had windows smashed. Outside a New Balance store, empty red shoeboxes were strewn on the ground.
The Police Department called more than 200 law enforcement officials, including all its officers, along with police from the Kirkland and Redmond and Washington State Patrol troopers.
Yesterday I also received information there is another protest planned at a different Bellevue location. It is almost within rock throwing distance from the company where I work.
This is way too close to home.
I’m preparing in case they move out into the suburbs.