Seattle Police will get tougher on people who vandalize and destroy property during protests, the department’s interim police chief announced on Jan. 23, ahead of a scheduled demonstration.
Seattle Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz’s announcement comes follows a protest during which buildings were damaged and vandalized in the downtown area of the city, including a federal courthouse, on the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
On Jan. 20, people dressed in black were seen marching into the iconic Pike Place Market, with video from the aftermath showing broken windows at a Starbucks. A group of black-clad activists marched along the street carrying a tattered American flag upside down, with the anarchy sign spray-painted on it and kicking over garbage containers.
Seattle police posted photos of the aftermath of the riots that shows multiple vandalized shops and buildings. The department said at the time that police had arrested one person for property damage, a woman for assault, and a man for burglary and property damage.
The activists are alleged to be members of the anarcho-communist group Antifa and other far-left groups, who have taken advantage of a number of peaceful protests calling for police reform by creating a scene of civil unrest and engaging in violence, lighting fires, looting, and damaging property during the summer last year. Many law enforcement officers were injured during operations to quell the violence and protect public safety.
Diaz told reporters during a conference that he wasn’t sure what cause the rioters were fighting for, adding that he didn’t believe violent protesters and vandals are promoting a cause.
“The events of breaking windows at a variety of different locations with no meaning,” Diaz told reporters. “There was no discussion about what they were fighting for, what type of social justice message. That cannot happen. That level of direct action cannot occur. And we are going to immediately address those issues.”
The Seattle Police Department didn’t respond to a request for more details on the new policy and enforcement by press time.
The violence and property destruction in Seattle occurred alongside similar protests and rioting in Portland, Oregon.
In Portland, black-clad activists with their faces covered broke windows and the glass door at the state Democratic Party’s business office, spray-painting an anarchist symbol over the party sign, video posted on social media shows. Some of them tipped over garbage containers and lit the contents on fire, according to reports.
“We don’t want Biden. We want revenge for police murders, imperialist wars, and fascist massacres,” read a banner they marched under, while others carried a banner reading “We are not governable,” which was dotted with anarchy symbols.
Eight people were arrested in Portland on charges that include rioting and reckless burning.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has urged President Joe Biden to condemn the recent actions of the rioters. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Jan. 23 that she hadn’t spoken to Biden about the recent unrest.
Independent reporter Andy Ngo, who has been closely monitoring and reporting on Antifa in Portland, said some of the rioters who were arrested at the most recent Portland riots were arrested at previous Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and released.
In a recent interview with The Epoch Times’ “American Thought Leaders” program, Ngo raised concerns over Twitter’s lack of enforcement of its policies when it failed to stop Antifa planning and promoting riots on the social media platform prior to the riots.
“In Seattle and Portland, there were simultaneous riots that were pre-planned and organized, and also advertised weeks ahead of time on Twitter,” Ngo said.
“Twitter did nothing to take down some of these accounts that were promoting these riots.”
Some of these accounts were ultimately suspended following the inauguration day riots, Ngo said on Jan. 22.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.