Seattle Police Chief says crowd coming to her house ‘feels very personal’
A crowd made its way to a home owned by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best this weekend in Snohomish County. According to a statement from Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney, Best was not at the residence at the time of the protest, but she described the visit as large, aggressive, and concerning to neighbors. She penned a letter to the Seattle City Council, asking them to call for an end to the tactics of showing up at homes of elected officials and civil servants.
“I have to say that I take exception to the response by our police chief who celebrated that her neighbors met these young people with guns when they were exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest on a city street,” Councilmember Tammy Morales told KIRO 7. “While this council has condemned some of the language and the tactics that were being used early on, we need to make sure that these young people are not met with armed neighbors when they are exercising their First Amendment rights.”
On KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show, Best responded to Morales’ statement by saying she hasn’t “celebrated,” and pointed out that she has a long history of supporting First Amendment rights.
“The truth of the matter is I wouldn’t be in this position, as an African American woman, if it weren’t for many people coming together, demonstrating, and representing the trials and the struggles of people who have been oppressed over history,” Best said. “So, I, for one, on a personal level, let alone as a professional person, absolutely believe in celebrating free speech and am not celebrating confrontation.”
Chief Best says the letter she wrote to the council states her position clearly.
“I do think that direct action against people isn’t really about getting the message across,” she said. “I have no vote. I don’t get to vote on … whether or not they defund the police. No one’s asked me about it from the council. So those things are not things that I even had the opportunity to weigh in on. So, for me, it feels very personal why people were there.”
While the protesters were gathered at her house, Best was in her office in Seattle, where she says she welcomes a conversation.
“I’m open to having a conversation if that’s what they really are truly interested in, at any time and at any point because I absolutely believe in dialogue and hearing everybody’s perspective, even if I don’t have the authority to vote on any of the issues that they’re concerned about,” Best said. “So for that reason, I just think that these things are more about fear and intimidation.”
She also recognized that she’s been ridiculed for whining about the protesters coming to her neighborhood, but said that’s really not what it’s about.
“I don’t believe in being bullied or mob rule,” she said. “Bullies need to be dealt with directly. I just think that the council, while they might pay lip service to having stepped up, they really haven’t. And so that’s the truth of the matter. And I think anybody can understand why you wouldn’t want your personal home impacted, and your neighborhood impacted, by direct actions.”
Best hopes the councilmembers do speak out against protesters going to the homes of elected officials and public servants.
“I think city council represents, should represent, the best, most accessible part of our city government,” she said. “I know they vote in districts now and maybe that’s not the best way to do things, but they should represent all of Seattle, and they should speak out against that.”
“There are lots of avenues to have discourse that don’t cause neighbors and neighborhoods to feel any sense of fear or intimidation, that don’t involve property damage and other things,” Best added. “I think that we can, as a strong society, come together and have these discussions. And I think city council, in their elected roles as public officials, could be the first ones trying to bring people together for better.”
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