Auburn is among the King County cities seeing protests over the death of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
Vandals and looters hit the T-Mobile and AT&T stores Sunday in the strip mall across from the Outlet Collection Seattle on 15th Street Southwest and damaged storefronts at the mall itself before Auburn police cleared the area roughly 90 minutes later.
The episode prompted Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus first to impose a curfew from 11 p.m. May 31 to 7 a.m. June 1. and on Monday to extend the curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. every day for the rest of the week, ending Saturday morning
The curfew declares that no person – with the exception of police officers and other emergency response personnel, government officials and authorized media – “shall enter or remain in the public right of way, in public parks or in any other public area within city limits during curfew hours. Residents are asked to stay home unless in transit to their place of work or in case of emergency.”
Dana Hinman, administrative director for the city of Auburn, said city officials had learned late Sunday evening that groups of looters that had been active in Seattle planned to move south down Interstate 5, likely stopping first at Westfield Southcenter Mall and then making their way to the Outlet Collection Mall in Auburn.
“The T-Mobile and AT&T stores sustained the most damage, but we heard from Xfinity that they sustained broken windows,” Hinman said, adding that in the latter case, however, metal bars inside the store stopped the vandals.
An exact count of Sunday’s vandals and looters was hard to come by, Hinman said, noting only that “a significant number showed up at the mall.”
Nobody was arrested, Hinman said, and no one was hurt.
City leaders took turns at Monday’s regular meeting of the Auburn City Council to denounce Floyd’s killing and what has followed in its train. Excerpts of their extended comments are given here.
“…African- American fathers and mothers fear for their children every day when they go to their playgrounds, schools and work, and they wonder if they would ever come home,” said Councilmember James Jeyaraj.. “This fear is not unfounded, as it has happened over the years to too many African-Americans for having the wrong skin color, and for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. This should not be happening in our country. We are all one people, Americans, with the right to life, liberty and justice,” Jeyaraj said.
Deputy Mayor Claude DaCorsi called the killing and its aftermath “horrific.”
“There is no place for this in our society,” DaCorsi said. “We all bleed the same color. Someone looking at the skin color of someone else and has a problem with that person because of his skin color, shame on those who are doing that. We’ve seen the tragic results in our own communities. of those who have chosen not to honor this man, and … have chosen the cause of chaos, havoc and destruction. They don’t care about George Floyd; all they care about is looting, and wreaking havoc in our communities, again which we saw last weekend, in our community of Auburn.
“Saying ‘sorry’ doesn’t change things,” DaCorsi added. “It’s time to recognize that no matter the color of your skin, we are all Americans, and we all need to be treated that way without hesitation, and everybody should be treated with respect and dignity, as they deserve,” DaCorsi said.
“I want folks to know that we on this council support the rights of American citizens to be out on the streets, demanding change, institutional change, and support your right to exercise freedom of speech,” said Councilmember Larry Brown. “I look forward to a time in this country when people will be more concerned about an outrage by the loss of life due to the scourge of racism as we are about the loss of property. And while it’s wrong for people to engage in violence during protests, it is wrong for people to be killed because they are black or for any other racist reasons. My heart mourns for America. “
Pastors from the faith communities of Auburn and Kent have since announced they will come together for a prayer vigil on the Auburn City Hall Plaza at noon June 2.
A second demonstration, advertised by its organizers on Facebook as kid-and-family-friendly and peaceful, should start to roll at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the City Hall Plaza.
“We are very supportive that it remains peaceful, and we hope that those who have chosen to infiltrate the demonstrations around this very worthy message are not going to try and come and deter from that message,” Hinman said. “We will have police on hand to ensure that things remain peaceful.”
Hinman said the city is concerned that some of the looters will return to town, possibly to the Outlet Collection, or to other business areas.
“Our economic development staff has been reaching out to our business community to inform them of anything that we know and asking them to secure their places of business as they did last night. We are asking that business owners board up their windows if they can, or take other measures to protect themselves from people coming and seeking to do harm,” Hinman said.