Today, the Seattle Community Police Commission released the following statement regarding revelations about the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) Proud Boys ruse during the 2020 protests and the subsequent Office of Police Accountability (OPA) investigation:
“We, Seattle’s Community Police Commission, write to condemn the Seattle Police Department’s decision to falsely claim—at the height of the protests against George Floyd’s murder—that armed groups of white nationalists were marching towards protestors. This lie, which came one day after a protestor was shot, was irresponsible, unprofessional, unethical, and unacceptable. It almost certainly escalated tensions in the CHOP/CHAZ, impacted other City departments, had a chilling effect on free speech, and, in hindsight, raises the specter of the six SPD officers who participated in the January 6 attempted coup. The officers responsible for and involved in this ruse must be held accountable, far beyond the recommendations of the OPA investigation, which sustained findings only for two police supervisors—both of whom are no longer with SPD—and none of the other four officers who were involved.
In 2018, a Seattle resident died by suicide after he was the target of an SPD ruse. After that incident, OPA recommended improved training for SPD officers; clearly those efforts were insufficient. Mayor Harrell and the City Council must work together to pass robust accountability legislation that prevents officers from using ruses in our City.
The fact that this investigation was completed in September 2021 but not released until December 30, 2021 is concerning in and of its own. It raises questions about why no one in SPD exposed the ruse earlier, why OPA delayed the release of its investigation, how that delay negatively impacted the outcomes and potential findings that could lead to officer discipline, and broader concerns about the recent announcement that OPA Director Myerberg has been appointed Public Safety Director in the Harrell Administration.”