A group of unruly demonstrators marched through downtown Olympia Thursday night and blocked an Interstate 5 on-ramp.
About 40 people gathered near City Hall about 7 p.m., many carrying Black Lives Matter signs.
An organizer said the group was protesting the deaths of two black men at the hands of policemen in Minnesota and Baton Rouge that have roiled the nation.
Alton Sterling died early Tuesday after Baton Rouge officers responded to reports of an armed man. Police had Sterling pinned to the ground when at least one of them shot him. Video of the shooting propelled the case to national attention.
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On Wednesday night, Philando Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop near St. Paul, Minnesota, after advising an officer that he had a licensed firearm while reaching for his driver’s license as the officer had requested.
The cases prompted protests across the country, including in Olympia.
Protesters blocked streets as they walked and when vehicles tried to move through or around them, some broke car windows, kicked in doors and ripped off antennas.
“Black Lives Matter”
“Hey hey, ho ho, these racist cops have got to go”
“No justice, no peace, no racist police”
Shortly after 8 p.m., the group moved to the on-ramp for northbound I-5 at Plum Street just as law enforcement officers arrived on the scene.
When protesters walked off the on-ramp, they were met by about 10 patrol cars and 20 police officers in riot gear. Some were holding night sticks. One police officer stepped forward and ordered the crowd to disperse because there had been assaults and property damage. A few protesters continued to walk forward and two got into a scuffle with officers. One grabbed a nightstick out of the officer’s hand and threw it to the ground. Officers then wrestled two protesters to the ground. Officers then fired pellets at the people who were resisting them.
Then a shouting match broke out between the protesters and the police. Police said again that the protesters needed to disperse. Protesters responded that they were just trying to get back home downtown. Police told them to stay on the sidewalk but they marched back down Plum Street.
They reassembled in front of City Hall after 9 p.m.
About 10 p.m., a shirtless man ran through the crowd shouting “White Power,” but he was quickly shouted down, and he left. The crowd then set fire to a shirt.
Officers from Olympia and Lacey police departments, the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol all were on the scene.