Two hours later, protesters and cops were battling on the street. A week later, the city still hasn't calmed down.
At the start of the evening, 500-plus protesters marched to Red Lion Hotel, where the LEIU was meeting and where over two dozen cops stood in the hotel's plaza behind a metal barricade.
At first, the mood was festive as activists danced, and waved both American and black anarchy flags. Soon, however, an anarchist in a green sweatshirt and orange bandanna climbed an awning adjacent to the hotel and tried to burn his American flag.
Stone-faced, cops watched from the sidewalk as the flag failed to ignite. Not to be deterred, the anarchist ripped it in half, broke the pole, and tossed the remnants into the jubilant crowd. He then leapt off the awning, where a handful of undercover cops immediately tracked him down and pulled him over the barricade.
The crowd retaliated: Flagpoles and other debris rained down on the police. The cops shot back with pepper spray and started herding protesters.
Twenty minutes later, with protesters actively retreating, cops unleashed rubber bullets, pepper-spray, and half a dozen deafening noise bombs. The activists broke into a run. At least five activists--including a legal observer from the National Lawyer's Guild who was hit square in the back with a projectile--wound up at the hospital.
"When people start throwing things at the police, we must start moving them," explained Seattle Police Captain Mike Sanford, defending the militant tactics at a hastily convened press conference. Behind him, protesters loudly refuted Sanford and detailed what they deemed police brutality.
Throughout the week, the riots refused to quiet: Activists denounced the cops' tactics and are calling for Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske to resign. They also have bombarded City Hall with demands for improved cop accountability during protests. As the LEIU packed its bags and headed out of Seattle on Friday, the activists still hadn't received a response.