The police chief in Seattle is urging elected officials to discourage anti-police demonstrations that have taken place over the last several weeks after protesters targeted her home over the weekend.
Police Chief Carmen Best called the demonstrators who gathered outside her home a group of “aggressive protesters,” who were deterred by her neighbors.
Best’s neighbors were “successful in ensuring the crowd was not able to trespass or engage in other illegal behavior in the area despite repeated attempts to do so,” she said.
“I urge both of you, and the entire council, to stand up for what is right,” Bestsaid in a letter sent to the City Councilthis week. “These direct actions against elected officials, and especially civil servants like myself, are out of line with and go against every democratic principle that guides our nation. Before this devolves into the new way of doing business by mob rule here in Seattle, and across the nation, elected officials like you must forcefully call for the end of these tactics.”
Since the death of George Floyd, Seattle has seen a spike in violent protests demanding the Police Department be defunded and disbanded. Best said her department has struggled to contain the demonstrations due to restrictions placed on officers by measures passed by the City Council in recent weeks.
Bestwarned local residentsand businesses in July that her department would not be able to contain crowds effectively and prevent looting, arson, and other acts of rioting as a result of a recent city ordinance barring officers from using nonlethal weapons.
“Please also know that the City Council Ordinance 119805 Crowd Control Tool goes into effect this weekend on Sunday, July 26, 2020,” Best said. “This ordinance bans Seattle Police officers the use of less lethal tools, including pepper spray that is commonly used to disperse crowds that have turned violent. Simply put, the legislation gives officers no ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan has voiced support for what she and other leaders in the city have called peaceful demonstrations advocating for social justice but condemned some of the gatherings after protesters targeted her home earlier this summer.
“Mayor Durkan and her family are in the state program to keep their address confidential because of the death threats mostly related to her work as Seattle’s U.S. Attorney under President Obama,”a statementfrom the mayor’s office issued at the time said. “Instead of working to make true change, Councilmember Sawant continues to choose political stunts. Tonight she did so without regard for the safety of the Mayor and her family. The Mayor was not even home — she was working at City Hall. Seattle can and should peacefully demonstrate but should not put families and children at risk.”