Protest against police brutality winds through Seattle

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on February 16, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 11:18 AM

SEATTLE -- More demonstrations are possible over the next few days following the decision to not file charges against the Seattle police officer in the fatal shooting of a First Nations woodcarver.

Protesters marched through downtown Seattle Wednesday, frustrated over KIng County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg's decision to not charge officer Ian Birk for the shooting death of John. T. Williams last August.

The demonstration, which spread from downtown to Capitol Hill, were mostly peaceful, aside from a few scuffles. Several groups plan additional protests for Friday and Saturday.

Although Birk was not charged, a Seattle Police Department review board said the shooting was not justified. Satterberg acknowledged that while Birk made serious tactical errors, there's no proof he acted with evil intent. That's a decision many don't agree with.

"I understand that policing is a tough job. I couldn't, wouldn't want to do it, but there has to be a limit where you can't just go around shooting people within four seconds," said one protester.

"I don't think it was right what they did to John T." said one woman. "He was an innocent man."

At first, a group of about 65 protesters formed at Westlake Center Monday, but another group joined them, marching from Capitol Hill. The combined group of more than 200 people then marched from Westlake Center to Boren Avenue and Howell Street, where Williams was shot.

The protesters marched in the middle of downtown streets, mixing with rush hour traffic. When they reached Boren and Howell, dozens of people laid down in the road.

The march continued toward the Seattle Police Department's West Precinct at Eighth Avenue and Virginia Street. Protesters were met by a line of police in riot gear. The crowd shouted at officers, but there was little physical contact.

Several blocks away at another police line, one protester could be seen attempting to go through the line of officers. The man was pushed back several times, but he continued to make contact with officers.

Some businesses took care to guard their doors as the protesters marched by, while others cheered on the demonstration.

The number of protesters began to dwindle after 8 p.m.

Birk resigned from the department at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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