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SPD announces new policy of arresting, prosecuting protesters who vandalize

People walk past a store that was looted during a riot following a peaceful rally expressing outrage over the death of George Floyd on May 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz announced Saturday a new policy of arresting and prosecuting people who vandalize or damage property during protests.

Wednesday: Seattle police arrest three people during destruction downtown

The new policy was coordinated with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, Diaz said.

The announcement comes ahead of a planned protest Saturday afternoon at Occidental Park against ICE.

Diaz said that the department does not respond to many demonstrations because they are peaceful, but the damage caused downtown on Wednesday made it clear to him that some protesters weren’t promoting a specific cause and required a different response.

Seattle police detail challenges in stopping protesters from destroying property

“I think everyone supports a level of demonstrations. It’s the ones in question where people have no direction and are creating property destruction without reason,” he said.

The protests Wednesday ended with several broken windows downtown at places including the original Starbucks store at Pike Place Market.

Diaz said that police have arrested around 600 people for various actions since last spring, and these often aren’t prosecuted. With the new policy, the city will prosecute more with those arrested several times for vandalism.

SPD Chief Diaz points to ‘sharp difference’ between peaceful protests and riots

“It’s time to stop, and if not, you’re going to go to jail and we will prosecute,” he said.

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