A Seattle City Council briefing was disrupted by people holding signs and shouting about police behavior during protests over recent grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who killed black men in Missouri and New York.
“Our problem with the police department is not unique. It’s nationwide. It is institutional racism. It is a problem with using weapons against people who are unarmed,” Dolly Rainey told the council.
Protester Marissa Johnson told the council that it would be held accountable for the decisions it made.
“We are talking about the actions of an incredibly fascist government,” Johnson said. “They corralled people on Capitol Hill the day after Christmas and they gassed people and they maced people before allowing people to go down to the Christmas Tree Lighting, which we forced our way down so that we could chant that ‘Black Lives Matter.'”
The Monday morning meeting was briefly suspended after people confronted councilmembers who were discussing another matter. Council President Tim Burgess had asked audience members to remain quiet while other issues were addressed.
“How dare you sit here and tell the people that we need to be quiet … you work for us,” Johnson shouted.
When the meeting resumed, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole spoke about the department’s response to the demonstrations. O’Toole said the ultimate goal was public safety, but protesters had complained that officers used their bikes as weapons during some gatherings.
In recent weeks hundreds of people have marched downtown to protest the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.