SEATTLE — Protesters who took to the streets angry about the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis voiced their outrage and frustration but remained peaceful for hours before the violence erupted.
At one point on Saturday, protesters in a group in Washington state started to approach a line of Seattle police, but organizers called the crowd back and urged them to protest peacefully.
"[We're] not thugs, [we're] activists looking for change," one protester said, according to KIRO-TV.
Before things turned destructive, speakers shared their message, urging everyone to stand up to racism.
But as frustration turned to violence, those who remained peaceful worried the message that brought them to the streets would be lost.
"I'm out here to protest, not to burn our city. Not to throw rocks at these businesses who supported us all these years," another protester told KIRO-TV.
“I shouldn’t have to worry every day about every black man I know. But no. No destruction. Change,” Washington resident Anika Jones said.
After the growing chaos led Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to declare a civil emergency and announce a curfew for the entire city, a move that has been enforced in many cities nationwide, Durkan thanked those who protested without violence.
"I know the vast majority of today's demonstrators came together with the intention to protest, grieve, and commit themselves to justice. For most of today, the demonstrations were peaceful, and I thank all those who chose to exercise their right to protest without hurting others,” Durkan said.
Cyrus Habib, Lt. Gov. of Washington, also thanked those who protested peacefully and reminded people that violence only takes away from their message.
“To those engaging in the destruction of property -- enough. Violence undermines our cause and begets more violence, distracting from the point,” Habib wrote on Twitter.
Some protesters have echoed that sentiment.
"This isn't helping anyone. This is not about George Floyd," an activist told KIRO-TV. "This is about stealing, and it's sad because it diminishes the real issue."