SPD Chief Promises Stronger Stance Against Troublemakers in Demonstrations

From the mainstream media

Seattle police Chief Kathleen O’Toole made good on her promise to step up the response to protests in downtown Seattle Monday, deploying upwards of 150 officers to an evening demonstration.

O’Toole called it “remarkable” that no one has been seriously injured during
a week of anti-police brutality protests that are expected to continue for
several days.

In an interview with KIRO Radio on Monday, O’Toole said she was frustrated by
protesters who stormed two downtown shopping centers and interrupted the
city’s annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, forcing organizers to cut it
short and cancel a performance from a children’s choir.

“These aren’t people who want to demonstrate responsibly,” O’Toole said of
some in the group, many of whom have taken to the streets four times over the past week to protest a grand jury decision not to indict a white Ferguson,
Missouri, police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.

O’Toole said she is proud of officers for showing “incredible restraint” in
the face of violence.

“It’s remarkable that nobody has been seriously injured because some of these protesters have thrown flares and bricks and rocks and other projectiles at the officers,” she said.

One officer was treated for minor injuries on Saturday after being hit in the
face by a rock that the department says was thrown by a protester.

O’Toole acknowledged the department would take a stronger stance against
trouble makers while still allowing protesters to peacefully demonstrate.

“We’ll be adjusting our operational tactics going forward,” O’Toole said.
“You’ll see more visibility downtown tonight and going forward, and we’re
making it clear that people who assault police officers, people who put
others in danger, will be arrested.”

A visibly larger number of officers were on hand at Westlake Park Monday
evening to prevent protesters from entering the mall or damaging property
than in previous demonstrations. Dozens of officers, some in riot gear, kept
protesters from marching to Capitol Hill as well, limiting their movements.

The evening ended peacefully with just one arrest, O’Toole said.

O’Toole said the department is busy reviewing photos and surveillance video
from recent protests to identify individuals who committed crimes.

In a statement released ahead of Monday’s planned protest, Seattle Mayor Ed
Murray said what happened last week cannot be allowed to happen again.

“In Seattle in the wake of the Ferguson grand jury decision this past
week, we have seen hundreds of peaceful protesters engage in free expression about the critical issue of race and social justice.

We have also seen what appears to be a familiar band of anarchists
exploit these peaceful protests and use them as a platform to do damage and
create an atmosphere of fear and chaos.

The City of Seattle stands ready to facilitate and support individuals
who wish to peacefully express their first amendment rights. But we will not
tolerate those who would exploit these peaceful protests in order to destroy
property and incite violence.

Over the weekend, many families and young people visited downtown for a
special holiday afternoon at Westlake Center – and nearly saw the planned
festivities spoiled. That cannot happen again, and Chief O’Toole and the
Seattle Police Department will ensure that downtown remains safe during
protests and during this holiday season.”