MYNORTHWEST NEWS

SPD to probe Capitol Hill gay pride pepper spray incident

Jun 26, 2012, 5:45 AM | Updated: 2:26 pm

The Seattle Police Department confirms it has launched an
investigation into the handling of a late night conflict
with demonstrators on Capitol Hill that led to the
deployment of pepper spray and six arrests.

The incident happened early Sunday morning as hundreds of
revelers took to the streets for what was billed as a
dance party and protest.

Initial police reports said officers were forced to use
pepper spray because some in the crowd were threatening
property destruction and refused orders to clear the
streets. One demonstrator reportedly kicked a police
commander in the knee.

But a video released on You Tube seems to contradict the
account. While the commander identified as Lt. Greg
Calder claimed he was assaulted, the video shows him
spraying one of those arrested from the street while the
other man stands on the sidewalk some distance from the
officer.

The video identifies Calder as a leader of Seattle’s
20/20 plan for reforms in the wake of DOJ findings of a
pattern of excessive force.

The commander of Capitol Hill’s East Precinct is defending
Calder’s actions, and the response of other officers who
moved firmly to control the crowd.

“We have the responsibility to ensure the peace on both
sides,” Capt. Ron Wilson told the Capitol Hill
Seattle blog
.

Wilson said police made a number of observations that the
situation was about to turn violent, including hearing
some in the crowd advocating property destruction as they
weaved through the streets.

“So it was at that point, given all that discussion about
breaking windows, the masking up, it’s time to say, ‘OK,
we’re going to contain this better by moving them out of
the street, onto the sidewalk,'” Wilson said.

He also disputed charges officers were “gay bashing,”
pointing out no steps were taken to end any of the late
night revelry.

“We didn’t stop the people,” Wilson told CHS. “That I
think
really has to be laid out. We didn’t put an end to their
march. All we told them to do was to get out of the
street. And most everyone complied.”

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SPD to probe Capitol Hill gay pride pepper spray incident