Seattle Police Share False Information About Proud Boys Open-Carrying at CHOP Rally, Watchdog Alleges

Seattle police actively spread misinformation about the presence of right-wing extremists in an attempt to distract activists at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) amid racial justice demonstrations in 2020, a city watchdog alleged.

Knowing that activists were listening to police radio chatter, officers engaged in a “mock broadcast” that disseminated false information that a group of armed Proud Boys were heading from downtown to Cal Anderson Park, Seattle Office of Police Accountability of a report. (OPA). The Proud Boys are a self-described group of “Western fundamentalists” who have engaged in street brawls in protests across the country.

OPA director Andrew Myerberg alleged in his report, “(The) use of the Proud Boys when it was known that the broadcast would be monitored, caused an unsustainable situation and made it even more so.”

He alleged that the fake broadcast “added fuel to the fire and could have dire consequences.”

Seattle investigators allege that city police spread misinformation about the presence of right-wing agitators to distract protesters during racial justice demonstrations across the country in 2020. Above, activists occupied a part of the city dubbed the “Capital Hill Autonomous Zone” in June 2020. ,
Jason Redmond / Getty Images

The report alleges how officers used “deception” to divert the attention of protesters from the area where most of the police and protests were taking place.

As racial justice protests swept across cities across the country in response to the police killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd, protesters in Seattle formed a barricade around a neighborhood.

CHOP occupiers in the self-declared autonomous region demanded the release of the arrested protesters and the city’s slashing of its police budget. At the time, officers left the Seattle Police Department’s eastern sector to defuse the situation.

An officer identified as “Enrolled Employee #1” told investigators that local police used the technique on June 8, 2020, because they were overwhelmed by protests and were “abandoned” by other local law enforcement agencies. ” Was.

“So, there was a big concern that, you know, we were operating on an island, and we needed to have the ability to respond in case something happened,” the official said, according to the report.

The investigation began when Converge Media journalist Omari Salisbury asked the office for body camera videos from officers following the Proud Boys’ group, Seattle Times Report. But after not getting the video, the office started investigation.

Update (1/5, 11:15 PM): This story has been updated to include comment from Omar Salisbury.

Salisbury, who documented the massive protest on Capitol Hill, told Greeley Tribune that not only protesters but also members of the media and residents listened to police scanners for information.

After the police left the premises, he said a wide cross-section of the neighborhood gathered. Salisbury described the atmosphere as relaxed and even “spirited” after several tense days around the barricading complex. But the atmosphere changed when radio chatter about the Proud Boys surfaced, he said.

Salisbury said that rumors about the Proud Boys lingered for months. He knew that the police might have captured the footage of the group and kept requesting it to various agencies.

Salisbury said it was disappointing that it took so long, and other details, to emerge about the 2020 protests, particularly after a new mayor took office.

“The facts need to come out, and the people of Seattle need to know what happened,” he said.

The report did not name Salisbury, but said an anonymous journalist told the office that the Proud Boys’ report changed the mood of the crowd.

“It seemed like everyone in the crowd who had guns went to get their guns and the event turned into something different from peaceful,” the journalist told the office.

While officers are permitted to use deception in certain circumstances, the report found that officers violated department policy. Seattle Times Report that the discipline will be considered by the department.

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday evening.