Editor’s Note: Veteran SR photographer Jesse Tinsley worked Sunday during the riots in downtown Spokane. He filmed the looting of the Nike Factory Store on video. This is his brief account.
It was the looting of the Nike Factory Store that prompted police on Sunday to use tear gas, rubber bullets and other measures against crowds in downtown Spokane for the first time.
Prior to that, there had been more than three hours of tense but peaceful protests at the Spokane County Courthouse.
As the main crowd separated and people walked away from the organized protest, a large group, possibly as many as 200, gathered outside the Federal Building at the intersection of Riverside and Monroe. I was asked to take some pictures there and return to the newspaper office.
But the police chased the crowds, perhaps when some started spraying graffiti. The group began to wander aimlessly in the middle of the streets, led mainly by young men but with many young women left behind or in small groups. The group was restless and walked a few blocks before arriving at the Nike store.
When those in front of the group ran towards the Nike store, I was half a block away. I saw two to four young men take turns kicking and punching glass doors before finally crashing down.
There was a small cheer from the larger group, and the looters began to march through the broken window screaming and cheering.
Jesse Tinsley – The Spokesperson-Review
I got closer and watched from 10 feet away people, almost all young men but also a few young women, going in and out, some with armfuls of clothes, others with only one pair of shoes under their feet. arm. Some protesters shouted “Don’t loot! Or “Stop looting!” But their cries were lost in the chaos.
After about two minutes, I walked away. As the frenetic activity slowed down, I was afraid to be there when the crowds got agitated again, so I crossed the street and waited for the police.
When I turned and reached the other side of the main avenue, I saw six to eight male protesters standing in front of the broken doors and windows, preventing further looting.
In less than five minutes, the BearCat – an armored police vehicle – and officers on foot entered the block from the west. I quickly moved to get away from the police.
Over a loudspeaker, a policeman said, “This is an illegal gathering. You must leave the area now. This was said three or more times as the officers prepared to advance.
The ad appeared to galvanize the remaining protesters to form a line across the main avenue on the east side of Howard Street, where they mocked the police.
Tear gas bombs began to fly.
I looked behind the police vehicles as the rioters began to disperse. A few picked up active tear gas canisters and threw them away. Other officers have arrived. Over the next several hours, the rioters retreated a few dozen yards, formed and started taunting the police again, sparking several more clashes until the police force pushed back anyone on the sidewalk shortly before midnight.