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Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County calls for investigation into SPD conduct at protests

Sep 17, 2020, 12:19 PM | Updated: 12:21 pm

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Police wait as demonstrators occupy an intersection nearby during protests in Seattle. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

After calling for an investigation into Seattle City Council, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is now expanding that net to include an additional investigation into the Seattle Police Department.

BLM Seattle-King County calls Chief Best’s retirement a loss

BLMSKC filed its latest request for an investigation with the city’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) Thursday, asking that it look into a series of questions regarding SPD’s conduct during recent protests. That includes:

  • Whether SPD’s use of crowd control weapons against protesters violated an ongoing court order
  • Whether SPD “illegally surveilled protesters using personal, non-SPD devices,” or illegally accessed the personal records of protesters
  • Whether Seattle’s elected officials or city staff interfered with SPD’s response to protesters
  • Who it was that gave the order, either “officially or unofficially,” to abandon the East Precinct in early June, and whether SPD used official city resources to “prolong that abandonment”
  • Whether anyone at the Office of Police Accountability “unlawfully or unethically shared internal information with the media about police actions or disciplinary decisions”

This request is in addition to one filed earlier this week, which asked the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) to look into into 10 separate issues related to city council, ranging from whether councilmembers “followed appropriate policies in opening City Hall to protesters” during an early-June demonstration, to whether councilmembers “were informed about out-of-state actors coming to Seattle to engage protesters, and if so, how they acted or did not on that information.”

BLM Seattle-King County also called on the SEEC to determine whether the council “exercised due diligence on budget proposals that appear discriminatory or unduly influenced” when it approved a series of cuts to SPD’s budget in August.

BLM Seattle-King County clarifies involvement in protests

“The City has asked for scrutiny in its work on behalf of residents, including on behalf of Black people demanding change,” the BLMSKC board of directors said in a written release. “These inquiries aim to help residents understand not only whether recent actions have been lawful, but if recent decisions are well-planned efforts to secure lasting change, or performances to score headlines.”

While BLMSKC voiced its support for SPD Chief Carmen Best in the wake of her retirement, it still believes that that “there is a growing body of evidence tending to show that SPD has failed to uphold its responsibilities and obey the law over the past three months.”

“At worst, the evidence suggests SPD has, through its officers and in its capacity as an institution, consistently engaged in various unlawful practices; and at best, the evidence suggests SPD has failed to uphold governing officer conduct policies,” its complaint to the OIG reads.

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Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County calls for investigation into SPD conduct at protests