Updates on protests for racial justice in the Seattle area (July 26-31)
Demonstrations and protests for racial justice continue in western Washington. The rallying cry of these protests has been to defund the police. Here's what that means.
This post is archived. Read the latest here.
FRIDAY, JULY 31
'Dry well' on SPD cuts this year, City Council president says
12 p.m. -- Today Seattle City Council members are unveiling their proposed changes to the Seattle Police Department’s current budget.
Council President Lorena Gonzales said there's not much that can be done this year.
“SPD has quite literally spent all of the money left or that we thought they would have left for 2020 and that has put us in the position of having a dry well, and we can’t pull water from a dry well,” she said.
But Gonzales said the council will seek much deeper cuts to SPD in the 2021 budget and the creation of a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. She said SPD would still exist with a narrower mandate.
Most council members say they support the demands of Black Lives Matter protests to cut the department’s funding by 50 percent.
You can see a draft resolution on how the council might proceed here.
-- Amy Radil
Public media leaders oppose judge ruling to turn footage over to Seattle Police
From a statement that includes KUOW news director Jill Jackson:
"We, the undersigned public media institutions of Washington State, stand with our fellow news outlets in voicing our deep concern and strong disagreement with the recent decision in King County Superior Court that would compel The Seattle Times, KIRO 7, KING 5, KOMO 4 and KCPQ 13 to hand over unpublished images and video to the Seattle Police Department." Keep reading.
THURSDAY, JULY 30
Mayor Durkan recall effort can move forward
8:30 a.m. -- A petition effort to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan can move forward. That's what a judge ruled Wednesday despite Durkan's request that the matter be reconsidered.
A group called "Fire the Mayor" argues that she broke the law when she let police use tear gas on people at recent protests.
If the group gathers enough signatures, a recall vote could be placed on the ballot in the future.
SPD investigates van full of explosives that was at last weekend's protest
8 a.m. -- Did a group of people use the Capitol Hill march over last weekend as a cover to set fires, smash windows, and destroy property?
That's what Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best says they're looking into after they recovered a van filled with an arsenal of weapons
"Peaceful protesters do not show up with a van full of bear spray, stun guns, spike strips, and explosives," Chief Best said Wednesday.
But that's exactly what Best says they found inside the van which had reportedly been following a group of demonstrators while they were protesting against federal agents being sent to Portland.
Shortly after the van was parked outside the East Precinct, SPD says an explosion blew a hole in the wall of the building.
No arrests have been made in connection to the van. But the SPD's use of pepper spray and blast balls against the demonstrators that day prompted the ACLU of Washington to file motion as part of its lawsuit with Black Lives Matter protesters.
They've asked a judge to hold the city of Seattle in contempt of a preliminary injunction that barred police from using pepper spray and other crowd control measures.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 29
Judge denies Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's bid to kill election recall petition against her
6:55 p.m. — A King County Superior Court judge on Wednesday doubled down on a decision earlier this month to allow an election recall petition against Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to proceed.
The petition is aimed at removing Durkan from office in response to the Seattle Police Department's use of tear gas and other crowd control weapons against protesters amid ongoing civil rights demonstrations.
Judge Mary E. Roberts on July 10 ruled that the recall petition could move forward, on the basis of a "factually and legally sufficient" accusation that Durkan failed to intervene in Seattle Police's use of chemical irritants against protesters. Roberts, however, threw out six other charges brought forth by the petitioners.
Durkan on July 14 filed a motion for the court to reconsider its stance, maintaining that decisions surrounding the Seattle Police Department's policies and procedures would fall on the shoulders of the Police Chief Carmen Best — not the mayor — under the city's charter.
Read more here.
Are the extra federal agents really leaving Portland?
9:15 a.m. -- The Department of Homeland Security says its extra security forces are leaving/not leaving the Portland area.
While some are seeing the announcement as a victory for local authorities and protesters, acting Secretary Chad Wolf issued a statement that was open to interpretation. He said state and local law enforcement had agreed to begin protecting federal property there, including the U.S. courthouse, the focus of protests for weeks.
But Wolf said the U.S. government "will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked."
You can read Wolf's full statement here.
-- Gil Aegerter
Jayapal grills AG Barr at congressional committee hearing
8:30 a.m. -- Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal accused U.S. Attorney General William Barr of hypocrisy over Black Lives Matter protests.
At a U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Jayapal said Barr was less harsh on protests against the coronavirus lockdowns, which often featured supporters of the president.
"But when black people and people of color protest police brutality, systemic racism and the president's very own lack of response to those critical issues, then you forcibly remove them with armed federal officers, pepper bombs because they are considered terrorists by the president," Jayapal said.
At the hearing Barr defended his actions and the Trump administration, including a decision to send federal agents to quell protests in Portland Oregon.
TUESDAY, JULY 28
Judge issues deadline for city of Seattle to respond to complaint over use of crowd control weapons
5:43 p.m. -- Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the ACLU of Washington are asking a federal judge to hold the city of Seattle in contempt of court, pointing to police use-of-force during last weekend's protest against racial injustice.
The Black Lives Matter-ACLU complaint alleges police violated a preliminary injunction by indiscriminately using pepper spray, blast balls and other crowd control measures against people who were not involved in violence, and by targeting legal observers and journalists.
U.S. District Judge Richard Jones has given the city until noon on Wednesday, July 29 to file a response to the complaint. Jones issued a preliminary injunction in June, barring the use of crowd control measures against people protesting peacefully. That was after police used tear gas and other weapons at multiple protests.
But this past Saturday, officers again used pepper spray and blast balls on protesters in Capitol Hill. A legal observer told KUOW that she saw the weapons employed against people who were not being violent.
Read more here.
Federal agents leave Seattle-area, officials say
1:44 p.m. -- (Updated at 5:51 p.m.) Less than a week after being deployed to the Seattle-area to be "on standby" to protect federal buildings, federal law enforcement personnel have left the area according to a statement by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
According to the statement issued Tuesday, Inslee said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's office received confirmation that the federal tactical unit has demobilized and left the area.
Durkan’s office later clarified that the federal agents sent to Seattle last week at the direction of Federal Protective Services, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security, were part of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s SWAT team.
A spokesperson for Durkan says all CBP personnel have since demobilized.
The practice of sending federal agents into U.S. cities, including Portland and Seattle, has been controversial. Several U.S. mayors are voicing opposition to it and have asked Congress to pass legislation restricting the practice.
In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, Brian Moran, noted that the federal officers did not clash with protesters in Seattle.
"[They] were exactly where I said they would be: protecting federal buildings and the functions in those buildings. These federal agents were needed elsewhere and departed," he said.
-- Derek Wang (Jason Pagano contributed reporting.)
Seattle officials question SPD efforts to obtain video from media
9 a.m. -- Some Seattle council members are concerned by the Police department's efforts to obtain unpublished video and photos from several local media outlets.
A judge ruled last week that four TV stations and The Seattle Times had to comply with a subpoena that required them to hand over footage from the May 30 downtown protests. The five local media outlets have not yet said if they'll appeal the recent ruling.
Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda says she's going to ask the city to withdraw the request.
"It is incredibly important that members of the press have the protection to say that they are not actors of the government, they are not there on behalf of the police, and we are going to put at risk the lives of journalists if we continue to go down this avenue," Mosqueda said.
SPD officials say they're looking for evidence that will help them identify people who set police cars on fire and stole firearms from those vehicles.
Use-of-force reportedly directed at legal observers at Seattle protests
8 a.m. -- Several legal observers with the National Lawyers Guild allege they were injured by blast balls and other crowd control measures during Saturday's protests in Capitol Hill -- even though they were visibly identified as neutral observers.
The Seattle Police Department could not be reached for comment Monday, but the Mayor's Office says the allegations have been sent to the Office of Police Accountability.
MONDAY, JULY 27
ACLU files contempt of court motion in lawsuit against Seattle
6:15 p.m. -- The ACLU of Washington has filed a contempt of court motion as part of its lawsuit with Black Lives Matter protesters against the city of Seattle. The motion aims to enforce a preliminary injunction against the use of crowd control measures by Seattle police.
The ACLU filed the motion after investigating violent clashes between protesters and Seattle police on Saturday.
A federal judge in June issued a temporary restraining order to prevent Seattle police officers from using tear gas and other uses of force against BLM protesters.
More details about how federal agents ended up in Seattle without notifying state and local officials
3:05 p.m. -- More details are emerging about what led up to federal agents being sent to the Seattle-area last week to protect federal buildings without notification from the federal government. The move caused strong concerns for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle-area officials because they said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf had said he would notify them if federal agents were sent to Seattle.
On Monday, Gov. Inslee's office shed a little more light on what happened. They released details from a call between Inslee, the Department of Homeland Security and Seattle-area officials that was held on Saturday, July 25.
Inslee's office says it appears as though a federal agency within the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Protective Service, decided to send agents to Seattle and failed to notify officials with the Department of Homeland Security's headquarters about the deployment.
The governor's office says they're asking federal officials to make sure they're given advance notice in the future.
Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has signed onto a letter to Congress from mayors from several cities, including Portland and Albuquerque, calling for legislation to restrict deployment of federal forces.
Also on Monday, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that more federal law enforcement officers are deploying to Portland.
-- Derek Wang
Weekend protests -- Some peaceful, some not
8 a.m. -- Protests in Portland have rippled north to Seattle where, on Saturday, some protesters set fire to a part of the King County Youth Jail.
The protest started peacefully at Seattle Central College with a few hundred people. The crowd chanted names of people killed by police, starting with George Floyd who was killed by Minneapolis police earlier this year.
The group grew in size and wove around Capitol Hill and onto Yesler Terrace. That’s where things started escalating. Some protesters from the crowd set five construction trailers on fire.
Next door is the King County Juvenile Justice building, which King County Executive Dow Constantine has said he’d like to close in five years. Protesters smashed the windows of that building, along with a Starbucks, and vandalized other businesses with graffiti.
Seattle police officers showed up in Capitol Hill by Saturday afternoon and declared the event a riot. Standoffs occurred between protesters and police over the next few hours. Pepper spray, rubber bullets, and blast balls were all used by police.
But protesters were ready with masks, helmets, and leaf blowers to defend against police tactics. The Seattle Police Department also reports that explosive devices were thrown at them, along with rocks, wood sticks, and bottles. One reportedly blew a hole in a wall at the East Precinct.
At least 47 demonstrators were arrested by police. SPD says 59 officers were injured -- abrasions, bruising, burns, and a torn meniscus -- and that most were able to return to duty.
SUNDAY, JULY 26
Seattle police give update on officer injuries
5 p.m. -- The Seattle Police Department released an update with their perspective on clashes between officers and protesters over the weekend.
Police Saturday used pepper spray and flash bang grenades on people protesting for racial justice. According the Seattle Police Department's account of events, "Officers were moving protesters away from the East Precinct after they threw an explosive at the building causing structural damage."
Meanwhile, legal observers from Seattle's National Lawyers Guild deployed to monitor the protests, released a statement criticizing the police response. They claim police "engaged in the indiscriminate use of crowd control munitions against largely peaceful protesters." The legal observers claimed to witness the use of pepper spray, blast balls, rubber bullets and flash bang grenades against protesters and even members of their own team, "all while concealing their badge numbers."
They are asking for Chief Carmen Best to investigate the officer's use of force against legal observers.
The statement from Seattle police states that 59 officers were injured and 47 people arrested.
Protests are continuing this evening.
-- Jill Jackson