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Thursday, May 2, 2013

SPD Supports Free Speech and Doesn't Use Excessive Force, Police Say

Posted by on Thu, May 2, 2013 at 5:14 PM

Assistant Police McDonagh (left) and Captain Chris Fowler (right).
  • Ben Steiner
  • Assistant Chief McDonagh (left) and Captain Chris Fowler (right).
At 3:30 p.m. today, Seattle Police held a press conference on yesterday's May Day riots. Two officers—Assistant Chief of the Special Operations Bureau Paul McDonagh and Captain Chris Fowler—headed the discussion, which provided little more than a defense of their force, a firmly held belief that the police did everything right, and multiple promises that the police department is all about the first amendment rights of the citizens it serves.

"We chose to let them march," McDonagh explained, but "once it moves into criminal activity, we will start taking action." And the actions of some of the protesters, McDonagh believes, "forced" the officers to go hands-on. When asked if they used the proper amount of force, Captain Fowler quickly responded that they used "the minimum force necessary to stop criminal activity."

Which included blast balls—balls of rubber that explode, creating a loud bang and a flash of light. (Captain Fowler assured reporters that these are different from flashbang grenades, which are used only in very specific tactical situations.) They also used "tactical-level OC spray" (which is pepper spray).

One of these not-quite-a-flashbang blast balls exploded near a woman and her baby. Assistant Chief McDonagh defended that use of force: "It's unfortunate that someone brought a child to that event. They had a number of chances to disperse and they chose to stay," and later added that the balls are necessary to "focus the crowd on listening to instructions and move them."

Assistant Police Chief McDonagh and Captain Fowler were very proud of their officers' performance the previous night. Their bike police, who were on the "front lines of the riot receiving the most assaults... met and exceeded expectations," Captain Fowler explained.

Fowler added that he was happy to see the Rain City Superheroes there to "distract the clowns," referring to the group of self-proclaimed anarchists who showed up to the riot dressed for the circus.

Reporters repeatedly asked if there was more that police could do to stop these protests from happening before they start. Couldn't you make it illegal for people to wear masks? Couldn't you move trash cans so there would be less to throw at you? But the officers insisted that they had no intention of stopping people from protesting: "We support first amendment speech," McDonagh concluded, and whenever people protest, some people may to turn to "criminal activity."


Comments (48) RSS

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THank you SPD! the majority of Seattle supports your actions last night.
Posted by NW Citizens on May 2, 2013 at 5:39 PM · Report this
Posted by FuckSlogAndTheirUnpaidSaladTossers on May 2, 2013 at 5:41 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
Of course they did.

They pepper sprayed at least two known media, and let the anarchists from Portland return home.

Win win.

Oh, wait, isn't this Bizarro World?
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 2, 2013 at 5:46 PM · Report this
Fnarf 4
Funny how nobody got sprayed or arrested at the awesome immigration rights march earlier, even though those people were mostly brown. Of course, they also had a point of view, which the other folks didn't, and expressed it with dignity and intelligence, neither of which were on offer at the later fiasco.

But you've got Will in Seattle on your side, so you'll win the battle of public opinion [snicker snortle chortle ho].
Posted by Fnarf on May 2, 2013 at 5:58 PM · Report this
Bull. The cops responded to kids throwing plastic water bottles with flash "balls" and pepper spray. They were rude, angry, and vicious. The spd sucks.
Posted by seven on May 2, 2013 at 6:11 PM · Report this
trstr 6
Hey fnarf, why don't you advocate more physical violence against people, you cowardly fuck?
Posted by trstr on May 2, 2013 at 6:22 PM · Report this
Fnarf 7
@6, no prob, sweetcakes. Hit 'em again, officers.

Thank you, @5; you're making my case for me. Whatever universe you inhabit where one can throw bottles at the police and not expect anything to happen to you is not one the rest of us care to live in. We'd appreciate it if you would kindly get the fuck out of our city and stay out.

I'll ask again, since I'm not having any luck getting an answer: why is it that the immigration rights protesters didn't get sprayed and arrested? What possible interpretation of your actions can there be but that you wanted to get sprayed and beaten, so you provoked that to happen? @5 admits it right there. You're in the wrong, and you got what you deserved, and you know it.
Posted by Fnarf on May 2, 2013 at 6:35 PM · Report this
Bullshit, "fnarf", one kid throwing a water bottle does not equate justly to pepper spraying a crowd of people. The cops were aggressive and desperate to keep the protest out of downtown because of the embarrassment they suffered last year. They deliberately provoked an already aggravated crowd in order to justify their third-world tactics. I was there as an observer.

I live in this city too and I'm not leaving it and I live in a world much wider than the one you can only see behind your screen, you cowardly simpleton. Judging by the amount of time you spend commenting on here I'd say you never leave it.
Posted by seven on May 2, 2013 at 6:57 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 9
It's a shame the SPD squandered all their credibility on... well, pretty much everything for the last few years. Even when they're in the right, they'll always sound like giant dicks.
Posted by MacCrocodile on May 2, 2013 at 7:05 PM · Report this
Fnarf 10
@8, fuck off. Actions have consequences. Throwing bottles at the police is a violent act that will always, always, always get the reaction you got, or worse. Third-world tactics, my big fat arse, that was very moderate policing by any standard, as moderate as you would have gotten in any city in the world.

And you still haven't answered my question. Because you can't. Because you are a shithead. Throwing bottles at the cops and expecting nothing to happen. Brilliant. How many squares do you get to mark off your faux-radical pinhead bingo card?
Posted by Fnarf on May 2, 2013 at 7:07 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 11

SPD let them off easy, they even allowed them their right to assemble which is far more than the SPD allowed us during WTO. But the over privileged child anarchist still cry foul when they receive a much deserved ass kicking from the SPD, who kept the kid gloves on.

.Yes the police use force, it is what they are paid to to. At times they have used too much force, but this was not one of them. They also have a duty, both to the Constitution and to maintaining social order.

The "anarchist" I use that term loosely as they seem to have no understanding of nonaggression principles, purposely provoked a response that followed the normal continuum of force, basically "you push me, I punch/pepperspray you, you throw rocks, I shoot flash bangs etc etc"

Fucking with the police is like taunting an angry dog then crying when you get bit. I think there are better ways to attempt social change then provoking a police riot that in the end further restricts the rights of citizens and increases the states monopoly on force.

Really I am just saddened and disappointed at the current state of the American protestor.
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on May 2, 2013 at 7:20 PM · Report this
Only in a world where every body has the right to pepper spray each other in the face and beat each other senseless with police batons can we ever truly be safe.

Of course, we could always privatize the police and let each neighborhood fund its own, private police force. Then, we could spend our weekdays, weeknights and weekends watching private cops from one neighborhood shoot at other private cops from other neighborhoods until one, victorious corporate police state prevailed.

Ah, free market police sounds so...

America, America...why isn't anyone else singing?
Posted by Head Up Your Ass And Singing on May 2, 2013 at 7:23 PM · Report this
Hawke 13
Has anyone bothered to show these legal gang leaders the video of one of their members taunting a citizen to "take a shot" at him?
Posted by Hawke on May 2, 2013 at 7:27 PM · Report this
Sorry, I usually side with the people on this, but I saw and heard. No way. The "people" in this case were DICKS. The police did what they had to, I would have done what they did. You purposely try to incite them and then they react... don't cry like a baby and say the police were using excessive force. Move to the Middle East or Russia or other wonderful parts of the world if you want to scream excessive force. I was completely unimpressed. Talk about looking for a fight and looking like a fool.
Posted by happy time on May 2, 2013 at 7:39 PM · Report this
Greenwood 15
Thank you, SPD. Job well done.
Posted by Greenwood on May 2, 2013 at 7:40 PM · Report this
Hawke 16
"COME ON! COME ON! TAKE A SHOT!" - said by one of Seattle's finest (if by finest you mean a thug with a badge looking to incite violence). The video of that is someplace here on SLOG. I'd say fuck the SPD but they don't deserve to be fucked.
Posted by Hawke on May 2, 2013 at 7:41 PM · Report this
word3 17
Perfectly stated!

Plus - the "free speech advocates" or whatever the hell they are, and their petulant water bottle abuse, nicely distract the city from important immigration issues.
Posted by word3 on May 2, 2013 at 7:44 PM · Report this
Hey Fnarf, what do you think Erica C. Barnett did to get tear gassed? Do you think she threw stuff at the cops too? What about last year when Brendan got pepper sprayed? What was he doing to provoke the SPD? Being a journalist is not a criminal offense. A few people throw stuff, and the SPD mace the whole crowd. A baby gets hit by a flash bang, and it's the mother's fault for being there? If that's how the SPD lets people express their first amendment rights, it's no wonder they're being sued by the DOJ.
Posted by Brandon J. on May 2, 2013 at 7:52 PM · Report this
lauramae 19
It's absolutely crazy that someone would actually believe that throwing anything wouldn't result in force. Don't want to have a cop react forcefully while you are marching and yelling with your stupid face covered? Don't throw shit. If you throw shit, be prepared to deal with the consequences. Brought it on yourselves.
Posted by lauramae on May 2, 2013 at 8:03 PM · Report this
@11 well said. I can`t believe I agree with you. About anything.
Posted by lifner77 on May 2, 2013 at 8:15 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 21
Can I call the one on the right Officer YumYum? Because that's what he is....
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on May 2, 2013 at 8:18 PM · Report this
raindrop 22
@21: Sure, I assume your fantasy includes an arrest, frisking, handcuffs, and steamed up squad car windows.
Posted by raindrop on May 2, 2013 at 8:58 PM · Report this
seatackled 23
Isn't pepper spray basically supposed to be the alternative to firing a gun--which cops are trained to use with lethal, rather than merely injurious, intent?
Posted by seatackled on May 2, 2013 at 9:14 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 24
Fnarf, your comments on this always help me think more clearly. I appreciate it very much.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on May 2, 2013 at 9:23 PM · Report this
@ 22 Wow, raindrop, project much?
Posted by lifner77 on May 2, 2013 at 9:30 PM · Report this
raindrop 26
@24, yeah, I know - Sorry Catalina. It's the Don Rickles in me - I try to keep it from rising to the surface.
Posted by raindrop on May 2, 2013 at 9:50 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 27
Raindrop dear, you are a naughty naughty boy.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on May 2, 2013 at 9:59 PM · Report this
interesting that there were several backpacks and bags found scattered around the march route that contained spraypaint, bricks, rocks and other, um, destructive items.
Posted by nador on May 2, 2013 at 10:13 PM · Report this
artistdogboy 29
Only way forward is with complete disciplined non violent protest and civil disobedience.Violent and destructive behavior only alienate the masses who's support is necessary for success. Violence actually turns majority of people against protesters and their message no matter how just. Citizens will side with police if protester generated violence persists. Moral high ground is lost and protesters and message will be marginalized or lost completely by media Finally, masses, middle class, working classes will not show up to attend a riot.
Posted by artistdogboy on May 2, 2013 at 10:33 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 30
Thank you Seattle Police for doing your job, and doing it very well. To those haters that approve of violence and breaking windows, please leave, now.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on May 2, 2013 at 11:06 PM · Report this
@29: Seriously. Today is the 50th anniversary of the Children's Crusade in Birmingham (aka Bombingham). That was the moral power of the civil rights movement. Be peaceful in asserting your rights no matter how obscenely violent law enforcement is.

The single biggest contributor to the success of the civil rights movement may well have been Bull Connor. He revolted not just a nation, but a planet and within a few years he was in the dustbin of history and the moral arc had surged eons past him.

Yesterday shows the contrast. One protest loudly, emphatically, articulately, and peacefully making their case. Another a group of privileged spoiled brats trying to provoke a confrontation w/SPD in hopes they would be seen as victims of oppression.

One group may help make social change. The other is actively inciting opposition to that change. They have no moral authority.
Posted by gnossos on May 2, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Report this
Hey Fnarf, what do you think Erica C. Barnett did to get tear gassed?

Do we really know that happened? She has already given contradictory accounts of the events.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on May 3, 2013 at 3:08 AM · Report this
dirac 33
It's already well established that Fnarf's a douche. Problem is that he's right in this case (beside his hypocritical and despicable call for violence).

But this is honestly really, really boring. There's a lot of time spent talking about the cost of this vandalism. What about the cost of not having an equitable society or real democracy? The news is too lazy to ask that question, but black bloc anarchists sure aren't helping--even those who may be sympathetic to any professed convictions they hold yawn at this bullshit.
Posted by dirac on May 3, 2013 at 3:47 AM · Report this
It's already well established that Fnarf's a douche. Problem is that he's right in this case (beside his hypocritical and despicable call for violence).

He didn't "call for violence," you dumbshit. He made a sarcastic reply to a typical Seattle fuckwit.
Posted by Unbrainwashed on May 3, 2013 at 3:55 AM · Report this

Try to watch to the end without thinking "will somebody PLEASE kick her ass?"
Posted by doceb on May 3, 2013 at 5:20 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 36
The question I have to ask is, why is it that this particular group of people can not field a directed, clear protest against something without assaulting police officers or smashing private property?

Also, this was not a "riot." The police resort to the measures you saw yesterday to keep it from becoming an actual riot.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 3, 2013 at 5:21 AM · Report this
SPD, they respect the truth, and only lie the minimum amount necessary to protect their egos.
Posted by peskypoop on May 3, 2013 at 5:23 AM · Report this
Rob in Baltimore 38
If you throw anything at anyone, that act is legally considered to be an assault. More than plastic bottles were thrown in this case. The police acted appropriately, greeting non lethal force from the crowd with non lethal force to disperse a mob that was growing more violent. Again, why was there no such problems with the protests from ethnic minorities earlier in the day? What was the difference?
Posted by Rob in Baltimore on May 3, 2013 at 6:16 AM · Report this
dirac 39
@34 You can go fuck yourself if it will help.
Posted by dirac on May 3, 2013 at 6:42 AM · Report this
@36 - this group has a directed, clear protest, that they do every time. Just because it's stupid and pointless doesn't mean it's not consistent.

Smash shit, act like complete assholes, antagonize the cops, get arrested, cause all sorts of negative attention, then whine about it afterwards. They like being dicks and breaking stuff just to break stuff. They're criminals. There's no real method to their madness. It's not really more complicated than that.
Posted by Bax on May 3, 2013 at 6:46 AM · Report this
"What about the cost of not having an equitable society "

Yes, how many would have to be killed to create that? Should we ask Kim Jong Il, Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao?
Posted by Sugartit on May 3, 2013 at 6:53 AM · Report this
@34 You can go fuck yourself if it will help.

Looks like someone pissed in a Seattle fuckwit's Kumbaya juice!
Posted by Unbrainwashed on May 3, 2013 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 43
If "Actions have Consequences" then why are all the tax scofflaws and Grand Theft Artistes in Finance still roaming free?

(pin drops)

Yeah, I thought so. One rule for the Rich, another rule for the people who actually do stuff.
Posted by Will in Seattle on May 3, 2013 at 10:49 AM · Report this
Haven't read all the stories and all the comments, But this was a very good training exercise for SPD -mistakes and all -but nothing more.
Pat yourself on the back all you want and pray...
Posted by Gray Panther on May 3, 2013 at 2:26 PM · Report this
That's very sweet that the pigs think so much about us in the clown army.
Posted by furstlewtenantgonzo on May 3, 2013 at 6:01 PM · Report this
Yes, we've all heard them SAY this over and over, but the fact is they don't respect free speech rights sometimes. They respect gearing up and playing soldier, marching down the streets in a line in full riot gear, shoving their batons and lobbing flash grenades, and it's excessive, even despite what happened on Cap Hill. That was there and arrests should be made, but don't punish the people who were downtown because you, as an ill-trained, steroid-fueled police officer signed up for the police force never expecting to get injured.

Injuries aren't preferable, but you're in law enforcement. Sometimes shit happens, and if you're afraid of an injury, you're a danger to the public and your fellow officers. It you can't interact with the public without riot gear, you're in the wrong business and we don't need you here. We need community policing with officers who aren't scared of the public.
Posted by mandyv on May 3, 2013 at 6:55 PM · Report this
Fnarf: straw man. You're correct that someone who throws something at a cop should expect a reaction. I think most of us agree that some reaction is warranted--arrest and trial. The argument you are (carefully, I suspect) dodging is that the reaction to someone throwing something should *not* be the police lobbing explosives into a crowd or dousing the crowd with chemical agents.
Posted by Phil M on May 4, 2013 at 9:52 AM · Report this
The police got to justify their paramilitary gear and training and to practice in a real-life situation in which the actual risk to them was low. They got a ton of overtime pay. They got to take out their aggression and live out their commando fantasies. They got to play hero to the DSA, gigantic chain retailers, and too-big-to-prosecute bankers. Even after they threw water on a grease fire and squeegeed it up to Capitol Hill, hillsters praise them.

The anti-capitalists enjoyed themselves and drew a ton of attention. There was wall-to-wall coverage. They once again demonstrated just how violent state actors become in the face of aggressive dissent. We all saw what the police will do on camera to privileged caucasians, hopefully reminded of how bad it gets for the underprivileged when police think nobody is watching. Without the cops' overreaction, the anticapitalist march would have received no more attention that the immigration march did.

The immigrants-rights marchers threw a wonderful parade that almost everyone involved enjoyed (including cops, excluding downtown commuters), and that nobody else noticed. They were aided by the anticapitalists who forced the mayor and the police to drag out the good-protester/bad-protester theme and praise the conveniently meek participants in the immigrants parade.
Posted by Phil M on May 4, 2013 at 10:14 AM · Report this

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