More allegations of abuse and civil rights violations added to Seattle Black Lives Matter protesters lawsuit

The roster of plaintiffs has ballooned to nearly 100 and the driver in the deadly crash that killed an activist during a protest on I-5 has been added as a defendant in the sprawling personal injury, wrongful death, and civil rights lawsuit brought by protesters against Seattle and Olympia.

The lawsuit now names 55 parties including the estate of Summer Taylor, the Capitol Hill activist hit and killed by a speeding driver as Washington State Patrol closed I-5 during the July protest, plus another 40 anonymous “Doe” defendants.

“The BLM/George Floyd protests continue to this day, and have resulted in additional injuries not just to these Plaintiffs but countless others, including other individuals represented by the undersigned counsel,” the legal team for the plaintiffs writes. Continue reading

Seattle City Council seeks federal judge signoff on new proposal to limit SPD crowd control weapons

The Seattle City Council is taking the unusual step of asking a federal judge to review its proposals for limiting police use of crowd control weapons including tear gas, blast balls, and pepper spray.

Tuesday, the council public safety committee voted to put its draft ordinance up for review by U.S. District Court Judge James Robart, the federal judge overseeing the Seattle Police Department consent decree put in place nearly a decade ago after findings of bias and improper use of force. Continue reading

Interim Seattle Police chief vows crackdown after months of ‘direct action’ protests targeting property damage and vandalism

2021 began with more protest arrests on Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s interim police chief called a press conference Saturday to announce “a new policy of arresting and prosecuting people who vandalize or damage property during protests,” KIRO TV reports — but the Seattle Times says it is not clear what has changed after Chief Adrian Diaz’s weekend announcement:

Holmes wasn’t at the news conference and in a statement, his office said misdemeanor policies are the same. No documents to outline any enforcement changes were immediately available. “We only learned about it after the fact,” Dan Nolte, a city attorney’s spokesperson, said regarding the hastily called news conference.

The Times reports Diaz told reporters “he has wanted to crack down on property destruction for months, and that in his opinion, violent protesters and vandals aren’t promoting a cause.”

Continue reading

More violations — but no discipline, yet — over tear gas canisters and dispersal orders in latest findings in Seattle Police ‘Demonstration Complaints’

The department’s oversight officials have determined that Seattle Police officers violated policies in a handful of complaints over incidents during the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests including SPD actions on Capitol Hill.

The latest release of findings comes as the Office of Police Accountability continues to work its way through thousands of complaints lodged over police use of force and crowd control weapons including blast balls and tear gas during the summer protests. Continue reading

I-5 arrests part of Seattle MLK Day 2021 as thousands march from Central District

Seattle’s MLK Day 2021 celebrations Monday were a reflection of the times with marchers stepping off from the Central District socially spaced and masked and a protest effort that branched off and brought traffic to a stop on I-5 generating headlines across the country.

“BLM protesters arrested, cited with blocking Seattle freeway on MLK Day,” Fox News reported, wringing its hands with concern over “the acronym for Black Lives Matter” being painted across the traffic-snarled freeway.

There were 12 people arrested and at least two cars impounded, the Washington State Patrol reported. UPDATE: None of the dozen were booked into jail, the WSP tells CHS. The King County Jail refused the bookings, according to a state trooper spokesperson. We have not yet confirmed why they were not accepted. UPDATE x2: The refusals fall under current restrictions to reduce the number of people being held at the King County Jail during the ongoing pandemic.

Thousands more marched from 23rd Ave’s Garfield High to downtown in the city’s annual showing in respect to the slain civil rights leader. Continue reading

Plywood comes down as Seattle Police begins process of removing East Precinct wall and barriers — UPDATE — Mayor’s office: Wall expected down ‘in coming weeks’

(Image: Alex Garland)

The reopening to the public of Capitol Hill’s East Precinct will apparently come piece by piece. This week, plywood is being removed from the Seattle Police Department’s precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine, the first time Seattle daylight has touched the glass since the summer days of CHOP and the Capitol Hill protest zone. The large cement wall and fencing barricading the facility and closing it off from the public remain.

A department spokesperson tells CHS the removal of the plywood “is part of a process underway” to fully reopen the precinct “when safe to do so.” Work is also underway to repair the glass and strengthen the windows.

There is no schedule for removing the wall. Continue reading

Seattle Police collecting community feedback on new use of force proposals

(Image: Tom Walsh with permission to CHS)

After months of protests in Seattle and a stream of examples of excessive force used by police, the Seattle Police Department debuted drafts in December that would alter its policies on use of force and crowd management last month, but advocates say they fall short.

Advocates and community groups have spent weeks organizing response to the proposals but there is still time to add your voice. SPD said its deadline for public feedback is Friday.

The specific existing policies, which undergo annual review, that the new drafts revise were originally developed in collaboration with the U.S. Justice Department and were approved by a federal court, noted SPD spokesperson Valerie Carson.

“Since June, SPD has significantly modified its tactical approach to meeting the evolving nature of this unprecedented series of protest events, responsive to both community concerns and internal discussions around lessons learned,” Carson said in an email, emphasizing changes in SPD policy around crowd management — tactics that faced heavy criticism over the summer for unnecessary escalation with protesters.

These changes include “robust emphasis” on tactics that isolate individuals who have broken the law so they can be arrested and reducing the “SPD visible footprint around these events” with the recognition that a heavy police presence can escalate tension.

Seattle Community Police Commission senior policy analyst Nia Franco said, however, there is little change to the crowd dispersal tools available to SPD, which would still be able to use tear gas and blast balls under the departmental policy. The CPC has consistently called for limitations on the use of crowd control weapons, including last year when, along with the Office of the Inspector General, and the Office of Police Accountability, it called on SPD to stop using tear gas on protesters.

“Their proposed changes completely disregard those recommendations that we’ve made,” Franco said in a Wednesday meeting of the commission. Continue reading

Driver in Summer Taylor vehicular homicide case ordered released from jail as case moves slowly toward trial

The man charged with vehicular homicide after he hit and killed activist Summer Taylor on I-5 has been ordered released from jail and placed on home detention despite being held on bail of $1.2 million.

According to court records, Dawit Kelete was ordered released after a bid from his lawyers to allow the defendant to go under house arrest and electronic monitoring as he awaits trial.

Kelete pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving after he crashed into a Black Lives Matter protest on I-5 on July 4th, killing one demonstrator, and badly injuring another. Continue reading

More arrests on Capitol Hill to start 2021 as anti-police protesters continue to target East Precinct

(Image: Renee Raketty)

(Image: Renee Raketty)

Seattle Police and anti-police protesters ended 2020 in familiar fashion on Capitol Hill with clashes and arrests near the 12th Ave youth jail and the East Precinct after reports of property damage and more broken glass at an area business targeted in previous attacks.

Friday morning, owner Faizel Khan was sweeping up glass from busted windows at his Cafe Argento on 12th Ave at E Olive St. Khan’s business was first targeted this summer and he was at the center of a New York Times report on the police defunding movement that took a critical look at the effort through the eyes of local businesses and property owners. The small business is also part of a handful joining a group of developers and property owners suing the city over its response to the protests.

SPD reports four arrests in the New Year’s Eve incidents as demonstrators gathered in the recently reopened Cal Anderson and marched to the King County Youth Service Center at 12th and Alder before returning to Capitol Hill and a tussle with police up and down E Pine. Continue reading

Cal Anderson Park ‘reopens’

(Image: Matt Mitgang)

New signs have gone up around Cal Anderson Park announcing that the space is again open to the public. Some new signage spells out the “NO CAMPING” restrictions in the park and provides a roster of “local resources” including information on hygiene facilities and available library bathrooms as well as information on how to connect with housing and shelter referrals.

Neighbors around the park say the signs are new as of Wednesday.

The park has been officially closed since the CHOP occupied protest was raided and cleared in July — though it has remained in use by strolling neighbors and dog owners throughout and even as the space remained a center of protest and encampments through 2020.

In its announcement of the reopening, Seattle Parks says “more activities, maintenance, and services” are planned for Cal Anderson in 2021. Continue reading