Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, who is African-American, has been dealing with this insanity since the beginning of the riots. This letter is basically a legalistic way of telling the Seattle City Council that its members are insane, that their legislative moves are unworkable, and that she’s going to go ahead and let them implement them and wreck the city as a result.
SPD has confirmed with the City Attorney’s Office that the City Council ordinance banning the use of less lethal tools – including pepper spray – commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent, will go into effect this weekend as written.
I am sending this notification for the purpose of ensuring I have done my due diligence of informing Council of the foreseeable impact of this ordinance on upcoming events.
It is a fact that there are groups and individuals who are intent on destruction in our City. Yes, we also have seen weeks of peaceful demonstrations, but two recent events (Sunday, July 19th and Wednesday, July 22nd) have included wide-scale property destruction and attacks on officers, injuring more than a dozen, some significantly.
This weekend we know that several events are planned across the city that will foreseeably involve many of the same violent actors from recent days. There is no reason not to assume we will continue to experience property destruction, arson, looting, and attempts to injure additional officers throughout the weekend and beyond.
Best then goes on to state that since the police aren’t allowed to do anything, it’s game over.
Under these circumstances, as created by Council, we cannot manage demonstrations as we have in the past. If I am not allowed to lawfully equip officers with the tools they have been trained to use to protect the community and themselves, it would be reckless to have them confront this level of violence under the current legal restrictions imposed by Council.
Some have asked why officers are not arresting those engaging in criminal behavior, as officers do every day, and as they have in recent protests. If it is safe to do so, and even when it places their lives in danger, our officers always directly address criminal behavior. They do this, however, when they know they have the tools shown to allow the safe use of their policing powers.
For these reasons, SPD will have an adjusted deployment in response to any demonstrations this weekend. The Council legislation gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd. Allowing this behavior deeply troubles me, but I am duty-bound to follow the Council legislation once it is in effect. If the Council is prepared to suggest a different response or interpretation of the legislation, I stand ready to receive it.
In short, you’ve made your bed. Don’t expect to do anything. And get ready to receive a DHS contingent because the Seattle cops will no longer be able to even pretend to manage this mess.
The Council regs are currently suspended because of a ruling by a Federal judge after an appeal from the DOJ. Both of these are dubious and aren’t any kind of a solution.
But the situation is also a reminder that as bad as local mayors are, and they deservedly get much of the flak, city councils in Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland and New York City are far worse than their mayors are. Wheeler, Frey, Durkan and De Blasio are terrible but city council members, some next up on the ladder, are more radical, extreme and irresponsible.
So yes things can and will get worse.