Seattle Police on Tyre Nichols protest: Hoping for best, preparing for worst

Jan 27, 2023, 2:30 PM | Updated: Jan 28, 2023, 9:45 am
Police officers block a street as city crews dismantle the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) area outside of the Seattle Police Department's vacated East Precinct on July 1, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Police reported making at least 31 arrests while clearing the CHOP area this morning. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Many cities across the country, including Seattle, are preparing for possible civil unrest following the release of the Tyre Nichols video.

Nichols was arrested and beaten by five Memphis police officers on Jan. 7. He died three days later. The officers were indicted, and the courts will decide whether the force was justified.

The head of Seattle’s police union, Mike Solan, told AM 770 KTTH’s Jason Rantz that they’re prepared for potential protests across the city tonight.

“If the activists want to take to the streets and commit violence … the good professional cops are ready,” explained Solan.

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Rantz asked: “When you consider the possibility, if not the likelihood, that some of the protesters get violent…when you consider the fact that police response from 2020 and 2021 was overly scrutinized, [there was criticism] that officers actually tried to stop some of the violence. How do you police under circumstances like that?”

“We always follow the chain of command and it’s chain of command orders that dictate our actions,” said Solan “If force is used, it’s ultimately up to that individual officer of using whatever force they use and has to justify that.”

Solan said he hasn’t seen the body cam footage out of Memphis yet but believes it will be graphic.

“I would say any loss of life is tragic. It’s my hope that there’s justice here, and I’m sure that there will be. So having said that, those types of actions aren’t emblematic of how Seattle police, police our community. We’re extremely professional in our service.”

Solan believes law enforcement is getting more difficult.

“It’s a difficult situation as we’re in a profession that’s highly scrutinized – as it should be. But it’s what action, unfortunately, across the nation, could be viewed as reflecting police as a whole by activists that wish to push an ideological agenda. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

“There is somewhat a sense of irony that folks here end up protesting against SPD; they’re not protesting against what happened in Memphis,” Rantz said. “They might be using that as inspiration to take to the streets. But they’ve been going after SPD, pretending that what happened in Minneapolis or what happened in Memphis is happening here. And that’s just not true.”

“It’s absolutely not true,” Solan responded. “And your words are spot on. It’s a false narrative. And one of the reasons that I took this role is to push back against that false narrative and just try to have a platform to correct the record. And that’s why we’ve been so outspoken. I think, obviously, being on your show and other forms of media and with our podcasts and whatnot, we have to protect the profession as a whole.”

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Solan believes a lot of the civil unrest is because activist groups want to gain the political upper hand or change the criminal justice system.

“They don’t reflect Seattle’s values,” said Solan “They’re the fringe elements. And we’re seeing, obviously, council members who want now not seek re-election, and I think their influence has waned, and I think they’ve lost significant influence. So, we’re hopeful that there’s a moderate course of action here politically and that if there are demonstrations today and over the weekend, in the coming days that they’re peaceful, and we actually welcome that.

“And although we’re not perfect, more often than not, we do a great job.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 7 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Seattle Police on Tyre Nichols protest: Hoping for best, preparing for worst