Video captures looting of Nike store in downtown Spokane

Editor’s Note: Veteran SR photographer Jesse Tinsley worked during the downtown Spokane riots on Sunday. He captured the looting of the Nike Factory Store on video. Here 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 were more than three hours of tense but peaceful protests at the Spokane County Courthouse.

As the main crowd parted and people walked away from the organized protest, a large group, possibly as many as 200 people, 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 away the crowd, maybe some started spraying graffiti. The group began to wander aimlessly through the middle of the streets, led mostly by young men but with many young women trailing 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 to the Nike store, I was half a block away. I saw two to four young men alternately kicking and ramming the glass doors before finally crashing.

There was a small cheer from the larger group, and the looters began to file through the broken window, shouting and cheering.

Jesse Tinsley – The Spokesperson Review

I got closer and observed from 10 feet away people, almost all young men but also young women, running in and out, some with armfuls of clothes, others with only one pair of shoes under the arm. Some demonstrators 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 crowd got restless again, so I crossed the street and waited for the police.

When I turned around and reached the other side of Main Avenue, I saw six to eight male protesters standing outside the smashed doors and windows, preventing further looting.

Within 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 law enforcement.

Over the 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 move forward.

The announcement appeared to prompt remaining protesters to form a line on Main Avenue on the east side of Howard Street where they taunted police.

Tear gas canisters started flying.

From behind the police vehicles, I watched the rioters begin to disperse. A few picked up active tear gas canisters and threw them away. Other officers arrived. Over the next few hours, the rioters retreated a few dozen yards, formed up and resumed taunting police, sparking several more clashes until police forces chased everyone on the sidewalk shortly before midnight.

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