Report faults Seattle police response to protests

Associated Press

Seattle — A report on the Seattle Police Department’s response to racial justice protests says officers need to find a better way to interact with anti-police demonstrators, including allowing officers to express solidarity with protesters marching against police brutality and racism.

The Seattle Times reports that the city’s Office of Inspector General for Public Safety review of local demonstrations that arose after the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police said the department needs to do more to ensure officers at protests don’t show contempt for the people whose rights they’re supposed to be protecting, regardless of fatigue and stress.

In this July 25, 2020, file photo, police pepper spray protesters, near Seattle Central College in Seattle, during a march and protest in support of Black Lives Matter.

The review committee, made up of SPD representatives and community members, found that officers who were sympathetic to the protesters and condemned Floyd’s death felt constrained from saying anything by the department’s code of conduct that requires political neutrality on duty.

That silence was interpreted by the crowd “as an alignment with, or at least a refusal to refute, the police brutality that was the source of the protests.”

In all, the OIG panel in a report released Thursday offered 54 recommendations in a granular, 122-page critique of the department’s response to the first of what the panel identified as five distinct waves of heightened violence during protests that happened in Seattle during the summer and fall of 2020.