Police from Seattle and King County occupy University of Washington on March 12, 1970, after demonstrations injure 17 persons.

  • By David Wilma
  • Posted 3/17/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2194

On March 12, 1970, 200 Seattle and King County Police Officers occupy buildings at the University of Washington after demonstrations over several days by the Black Student Union and the Seattle Liberation Front disrupt classes and injure 17 persons. The Black Student Union objects to athletic activities competitions with Brigham Young University because its sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints (Mormons) discriminated against African Americans in its liturgy.

Demonstrations by the Black Student Union and its supporters from the Seattle Liberation Front began on March 5, 1970, with the brief occupation of Thomson Hall. The following day, disruptions increased as roving gangs of protesters invaded several buildings. The University obtained a court injunction against the Black Student Union, the Seattle Liberation Front and "those acting in concert with them" prohibiting "the use of force of violence in such a way as to interfere with the normal activity of the university" (The Seattle Times). Although University officials announced on March 8, 1970 that they would not renew any of the current contracts with Brigham Young University, the demonstrations continued with hundreds of protesters entering buildings and disrupting classes.

On March 10 and 11, 1970, students begin to resist the demonstrators and 17 persons were injured, including some innocent bystanders. A woman student had her teeth knocked out by a protester. Busloads of police were summoned, but the demonstrations ended before officers could be deployed. An arson fire in Parrington Hall and incidents of vandalism all over the campus prompted Acting University President John Hogness (President Charles Odegaard [1911-1999] was in Europe) to request the presence of Seattle and King County Police to insure that classes would continue.

Officers from Seattle and King County arrived on March 12 and were staged in several buildings around campus. There were no more disruptions and the academic term ended peacefully the following week.


Walt Crowley, Rites of Passage: A Memoir of the Sixties in Seattle, (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995), 170, 282; The Seattle Times, March 6, 1970, p. A-1; Ibid., March 7, 1970, p. A-3; Ibid., March 10, 1970, p. A-10, Ibid., March 11, 1970, p. A-1, B-1; Ibid., March 12, 1970, p. A-1, A-8.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both HistoryLink.org and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for HistoryLink.org Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You