Noisy mob creates havoc on Capitol Hill

Noisy mob creates havoc on Capitol Hill »Play Video
A flash mob surges down a street on Capitol Hill early Sunday. (Photo by Josh Lewis)
SEATTLE - Several hundred people swarmed through the Capitol Hill area overnight, noisily vandalizing stores and smashing windows before dispersing into the darkness.

Police say the drama began shortly after midnight Sunday when a flash mob gathered, passing out flyers, during a dance party. But the mob soon went out of control, creating havoc, said Renee Witt of the Seattle Police Department.

The mob marched down 12th Avenue and Broadway, yelling and chanting. Some carried rainbow flags, while others carried red-and-black flags and wore masks.

Eventually some people started smashing store windows, damaging property, spray-painting slogans and bashing in the windshield of a patrol car.

During the melee, a bank ATM also was damaged. Windows were smashed and spray-painted at an American Apparel store and at a luxury car dealership.

"It was just a walk down the street - it was a dance party down the street - and some idiot started throwing things," said one young woman who was there.

Some people in the group, described as anarchists, apparently chose to use Gay Pride Weekend to send to message of protest - upset at how much gay pride is now part of the commercial mainstream.

"There are some anarchists, gay activists, that don't want to be assimilated into capitalists' culture, and they feel like they're being exploited by companies like American Apparel," said Endresen Evans, who lives on Capitol Hill.

That's why it appears protesters specifically targeted the store. A rock was thrown through the window and then vandalized with black spray paint.

But not everyone agreed that was the purpose of the disturbance.

"It had nothing to do with pride or anything like that," says Lizzy Costello, a Capitol Hill resident. "It was some kind of hunger strike or like that that they were connected with."

As the crowd grew more violent, officers swooped in, arming themselves with gas masks, riot gear and Tasers. One person was arrested, Witt said.

Soon afterward, the mob dispersed as quickly as it appeared.