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Seattle City Attorney says he will not file charges against peaceful protesters

A protester arrested by Seattle police. (Getty Images)

Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes announced Wednesday that charges will not be filed against peaceful protesters arrested in recent weeks.

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“If you’re marching the streets, peacefully speaking your voice and out after the now-cancelled curfew, I have no interest in charging you with a crime,” Holmes said in a written statement.

The dropping of all charges against protesters has been one of the primary demands from demonstrators currently occupying Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Some protesters arrested for misdemeanor crimes — including reckless endangerment and “some lower-level assaults” — will be referred to local nonprofit CHOOSE 180 for a diversionary workshop. After the completion of that workshop, Holmes promises to “toss their criminal case referral in the figurative waste basket. No criminal charge. No criminal record. No jail.”

These offenders represent “a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the people who are out peacefully decrying racial injustice and police actions both nationwide and here in Seattle,” Holmes noted.

Holmes also clarified that offers of diversionary workshops for misdemeanor offenders will be given to “appropriate referral candidates,” after review of body camera video.

The hope from the City Attorney is to focus on restorative justice rather than punitive measures.

“While some may resort reflexively with the ‘just lock ‘em up’ refrain, I’ve never felt that punitive incarceration is our best or smartest response,” Holmes said.

CHOOSE 180’s workshop with arrested protesters will also operate as an adult test pilot for a larger partnership between the organization and the City of Seattle. Before now, the program has been limited to misdemeanor offenders between the ages of 18 and 24.

Holmes also said that “no one is currently in jail for events stemming from recent demonstrations at the misdemeanor level.”

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Incidents involving alleged felony-level crimes during protests have been referred to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. That includes people arrested for third degree assault on police officers, looting, burglary, hate crimes, and “some rather alarming firearm-based incidents.”

Correction, 6/17/20: A previous version of this article stated that no protesters arrested for misdemeanor crimes will be charged. It has been clarified to reflect that misdemeanor offenders will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for referral to diversionary workshops.
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