Street people battle with police in Seattle's University District on August 11, 1969.

  • By Alan J. Stein and Walt Crowley
  • Posted 6/06/1999
  • Essay 1263
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On August 11, 1969, street people in the University District battle with police. Five are arrested and three officers are injured.

At about 9 p.m., a young man kicked over a trash can at the corner of NE 42nd Street and University Way. Nearby police quickly grabbed and handcuffed him. His girlfriend began berating "the pigs" and pleading for a growing crowd of spectators to do something.

When the cops grabbed her next, Jim Emerson, a self-declared White Panther, decided he had enough. He landed a haymaker on the jaw of Officer Mike Bolger, and spectators began throwing everything they could get their hands on. Bricks struck two officers, Marvin Queen and Tom Grabicki, and a stray missile shattered the window of the Coffee Corral. The original offender escaped in the confusion but was re-apprehended.

More police arrived along with a TV news crew, but eventually the spectators drifted away and the police withdrew. The next day, the University District was electric with news of the previous night's incident. The police wisely kept a low profile and let street people celebrate their "victory" unmolested.


Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle (Seattle; University of Washington Press, 1995), 151, 268.

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