Lauren Fruen, Daily Mail, August 4, 2020
Seattle’s police chief has pleaded with city officials to ‘stop mob rule and do the right thing’ after ‘aggressive’ protesters marched on her home Saturday.
Carmen Best wrote a letter to the council Monday two days after protesters showed up at her home Saturday night. Best, who opposes a 50 per cent cut in police funding, said council members need to ‘forcefully call for the end of these tactics.’
Protesters recently also appeared outside the homes of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and some people on the City Council as demonstrations continue following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Best last month spoke out against a plan proposed by advocates to cut the police department budget by 50 per cent and reallocate the money to other community needs. ‘We will be much less safe,’ she warned.
The Seattle Times reports residents blocked a road into Best’s neighborhood during the demonstrations. Footage appears to show armed neighbors blocking the road. A protester says: ‘We don’t have guns, you’re the ones with guns.’
Neighbor Jamie Roulstone said: ‘It was not peaceful. They were here to intimidate. Scare people. Scare children. There were children out there and they were asking them what schools they went to. They were yelling the most horrible things you’ve ever heard in your entire life.’
Best’s letter said her neighbors ‘were concerned by such a large group’ and didn’t allow protesters to ‘trespass or engage in other illegal behavior in the area, despite repeated attempts to do so.’
But councilmember Tammy Morales said: ‘I take exception to the response by our police chief who celebrated that her neighbors met with these young people with guns.’
Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney said most of the protesters were dispersing or had already left when deputies arrived.
He said he spoke with Best, who was not at the home at the time, on the phone and ‘assured her that his office would deploy whatever resources were necessary to protect her, her family and her property.’
Chief Best said: ‘When the people showed up to my house, it certainly felt very personal about me. It really does seem like a mob mentality, and bullying, to intimidate a public official.’
Seattle City Council members are eyeing proposals to shrink the police department, starting with budget proposals that could reduce the force by as many as 100 officers through layoffs and attrition this year.
Most of the proposals, including cuts aimed at the SWAT team, encampment-removal team and mounted unit, appear to have enough support to pass.
Yet the package unveiled by some council members won’t immediately accomplish what many protesters have been calling for, and what Best has issued warnings about: Reducing the Police Department’s spending by at least 50 per cent and redirecting that money to other areas.
After it emerged seven of nine members of the Seattle City Council have indicated they support the plan to cut the department’s budget in half Best said: ‘I’m hoping that the council will reconsider this very rash and reckless decision and allow us to do the work that we’re supposed to do for the city of Seattle.’
She wrote in an earlier letter to Seattle Mayor Durkin that approving the plan would amount to ‘political pandering’.
Best argued the same in a video message posted on YouTube to the department, where she suggested that cutting the police budget in half would ask residents ‘to test out a theory that crime goes away if police go away’.
But the calls for defunding cops were also driven by protesters who took over Seattle’s East Precinct building after police abandoned it amid violent protests.
Demonstrators set up a cop-free ‘autonomous zone’ in six blocks and a park.
The area, known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, was cleared out on July 1 on an order from Mayor Durkin who had declared the ongoing protest an ‘unlawful assembly.
And Seattle is not alone in considering the concept of defunding cops after the police-related slaying of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
Protests erupted after the 46-year-old black father of five died during an arrest when white office Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against the man’s neck for close to nine minutes.
Floyd’s death, which cost Chauvin his job and got the ex-cop charged with murder, set in motion nationwide protests, driven by the Black Lives Matter movement and a call for police reform and end to systematic racism.
Lawmakers in more than a dozen US cities responded with proposals to reform policing by defunding departments and reallocating financial resources to social needs and programs.
Minneapolis made the controversial move of considering a proposal to disband its department entirely and approved the plan by a unanimous city council vote of 12 to 0 on June 26.
New York City followed on July 1, after its council voted to slash $1billion from the NYPD budget.
Police chief Carmen Best’s letter to elected officials in full
Dear President González, Chairwoman Herbold, and Seattle City Council Members:
I wanted to update you on recent events, particularly those that occurred late last night.
A residence of mine in Snohomish County was targeted by a large group of aggressive protestors late last night. My neighbors were concerned by such a large group, but they were successful in ensuring the crowd was not able to trespass or engage in other illegal behavior in the area, despite repeated attempts to do so. Currently, the local sheriff (not SPD resources) is monitoring the situation.
I urge both of you, and the entire council, to stand up for what is right. These direct actions against elected officials, and especially civil servants like myself, are out of line with and go against every democratic principle that guides our nation. Before this devolves into the new way of doing business by mob rule here in Seattle, and across the nation, elected officials like you must forcefully call for the end of these tactics.
The events of this summer were initiated in a moment of grief and outrage over the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and so many other Black and Brown people suffering at the hands of injustice. All of us must ensure that this righteous cause is not lost in the confusion of so many protestors now engaging in violence and intimidation, which many are not speaking against.
Chief of Police
Seattle Police Department