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Serious questions raised on SPD actions at September 7 protest

Videos released by SPOG and SPD create more questions than they answer.

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On September 7, 2020, 300 to 400 people marched from the International District to the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) offices in SODO. At 6:20 PM, Seattle Police took direct action against a mostly peaceful group, rushing in with over 100 officers in two directions. When the smoke cleared, Seattle Police and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild claimed they moved on the group due to intelligence that an individual had Molotov cocktails. They advanced to arrest that person. Our investigation indicates the official version of the events that happened that day doesn’t stand up.

From September to November, both SPOG and SPD have released videos of events during the protest. The videos they released included security cameras, body cameras, and scraped content from journalists. We analyzed their video in combination with over nine hours of video Malcontent News captured on September 7.

The Seattle Police Officer’s Guild released a video on September 11, 2020, which highlighted an individual carrying a Corona beer box as the known suspect with the Molotov cocktails. SPOG accused the person of wanting to burn down their offices and that it was the march’s broader purpose. SPOG, in their video, states that was the reason police advanced on protesters.

In November, the Seattle Police Department released over an hour of security camera and officer’s body camera video from September 7. The SPD video also claims that police moved in on protesters due to an individual with Molotov cocktails. An SPD statement reads, “During the march, SPD received information that a suspect in the crowd had and was readying Molotov cocktails. members of the crowd began to gather outside SPOG, gathering and placing combustible material in front of the fence.

We interviewed protesters from that day, and one of our cameras captured a person throwing trash over the fence. Protesters told us they had picked up trash during the march from the International District and had planned to toss the garbage over the fence but had no plan or intent on lighting it on fire. SPD’s own story of a lone operative with Molotov cocktails morphs into a coordinated effort as their statement continues. “Others in the crowd began to take those same materials, throwing them over the fence in a coordinated effort.

Our video analysis shows that the man with the Corona beer box walks past the people leaving trash bags at the northeast corner of the SPOG fence. He continues to walk southbound past the SPOG building and into the main body of protesters adjacent to the SPOG parking lot. Just as Seattle Police move in, an individual throws one bag of garbage over the fence. The video doesn’t support the premise of a coordinated effort with the trash, nor coordination with the man carrying the box. 

An investigation that reviewed the officer’s statements, SPOG press release, videos, and the SPD released videos created more questions than providing answers. Our review shows that the Seattle Police had multiple opportunities to arrest the person allegedly with Molotov cocktails, yet took no action. 

Video recorded by journalists on September 7 shows the person of interest standing mere feet from officers, directing protesters to head north. Seattle Police Department body camera video shows the individual in front of multiple Seattle police and SWAT officers. Another video shows the person of interest about an hour later, marching back with protesters.

The man holding the Corona beer box has been a point of controversy from all sides since September 7. Some people in the protest community have told us he is a “stupid protester” operating independently. Others have accused the individual of being part of the extreme-right, there to discredit the movement. Some suggested the individual seen later in videos is a different person from the one carrying the Corona beer box.

Our analysis discovered that the man carrying the Corona beer box had a red shirt under his darker shirt. A camera caught a glimpse of the red shirt sticking out from under his sweat jacket about 30 minutes before the protest group arrived at SPOG headquarters. SPD body camera video, which shows SPD officers ignoring the man, also shows the same red undershirt. 

Part of SPD’s claims is that on September 7, people inside SPOG headquarters smelled gasoline. The claim being, they could smell the Molotov cocktails outside. On the same day, the SPD Twitter released a photo of the opened beer box showing the contents inside. However, the bottles appear to be empty or near empty, and nothing in the contents has the color of gasoline. 

SPD’s statement from the day declares, “Lt. Brooks ordered the arrest of the suspect with the Molotov cocktail and at 6:20 PM SPD made its first contact with the crowd…” The wording is essential. Like the SPOG video of September 11, the SPD statement establishes they knew who the suspect was. That person is the man carrying the Corona beer box. Not only is he never captured, he stands feet away from police on multiple occasions where arresting him would have been safe for officers.  

Our investigation concludes that the Seattle Police Department’s claim that they advanced on protesters to arrest an individual they knew to have Molotov cocktails is highly questionable. The Seattle Police Officer’s Guild identifies the person in their video on September 11. In the videos released by the Seattle Police Department in November, the same individual goes ignored in their analysis.

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