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Tag: george floyd

Busted: Seattle Police Spread Disinformation During Anti-Racist Protests

The latest police scandal in Seattle provides a crystalline example of how local law enforcement authorities have become toxic entities in modern urban areas—largely because it demonstrates, once again, that the city’s ranks have become populated with right-wing extremists who share an abiding contempt for the citizens they’re supposed to “serve and protect.”

An investigation by Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA) reported this week that city police, during George Floyd-inspired June 2020 protests against police brutality, engaged in a campaign of disinformation over police radio intended to convince leftist activists who had created an “autonomous zone” in the Capitol Hill neighborhood that a phalanx of far-right Proud Boys were marching around the city. The radio chatter heightened tensions within the encampment that eventually erupted in real-world gun violence.

The investigation, spurred by social media reports from leftist activists, found that on the night of June 8, 2020—just after police had abandoned its East Precinct Station on Capitol Hill and as activists were creating what they called autonomous zone they later renamed the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP)—deliberately broadcast false verbal reports of a gang of Proud Boys marching around the downtown area.

The participating officers traded the false reports over the radio, saying: “It looks like a few of them might be open carrying,” and: “Hearing from the Proud Boys group. … They may be looking for somewhere else for confrontation.”

Activists monitoring police radio raised the alarm on social media, leading some of the CHOP participants to arm themselves. OPA Director Andrew Myerberg noted that while some of them may have brought guns regardless of the warnings, the disinformation “improperly added fuel to the fire.”

Moreover, key police leaders were aware of the disinformation campaign, even though it violated department policy. However, Myerberg also concluded that the four officers who participated may have used “poor judgment,” but were following guidance from their supervisors, who the report blames for spreading the false story.

The two supervisors it identifies as organizing and overseeing the disinformation network, as it happens, have both left the department in the intervening months. Chief Adrian Diaz will review the activities of the remaining employees.

Prior to the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, many police departments—including Seattle’s—had generally amicable relationships with the Proud Boys, leading many of them to conclude that they could behave with impunity in those jurisdictions. This was notably the case in Seattle, which had been the scene of a number of Proud Boys protests before 2020, resulting (as in Portland) mostly in the arrests of leftist counterprotesters and relatively few far-right street provocateurs.

Seattle activist Matt Watson (who uses the nom de plume Spek on social media) first reported the police-radio hoax shortly after it happened, and was able to document the fake reports. His reportage went largely unnoticed until early 2021, when activist Omari Salisbury began digging into the matter. Salisbury’s requests for body-camera footage of the purported Proud Boys sightings led OPA to open its investigation.

Even after the police hoax in early June, real Proud Boys (led by Portland agitator Tusitala “Tiny” Toese) showed up at the CHOP and engaged in harassment of the activists there, as well as of residents in the surrounding neighborhood. Toese and a gang of his Proud Boy and white-nationalist associates entered the zone on June 15 and attempted to start fights and were largely prevented from doing so; they later were videotaped assaulting a man and destroying his cell phone on a neighborhood side street near the zone.

By the end of the month, there had been multiple incidents of gunfire within the zone and in its vicinity, resulting in two deaths. CHOP was shut down on July 1.

Seattle citizens’ fraught relationship with the city’s police department goes back decades, but has intensified since 2011, when the Justice Department opened an investigation into complaints by community leaders about its excessive use of force and its biased behavior while policing minorities, resulting in a federal consent decree under which the department has been operating since 2012. City officials moved in early 2020 to lift portions of that decree, but pulled back on those efforts after the June riots on Capitol Hill.

The presence of right-wing extremists on the force became an acute matter of public concern after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol—largely because six Seattle officers were identified as participants in that day’s “Stop the Steal” protests. Two of them were fired after an investigation found they had entered the Capitol that day.

“Misinformation, especially of this inflammatory nature, is totally unacceptable from our Seattle police officers,” newly elected Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement lamenting the “immeasurable” harm caused by the scandal. “This kind of tactic never should have been considered.”

“This misinformation from SPD led to a fortification of the East Precinct and weeks of violence against the people of Seattle,” Seattle City Council member Tammy Morales wrote on Twitter. “As @Omarisal says, it was a ‘strategy planned by the higher ups.’ We need an investigation outside City process and we need real accountability.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Detroit Cop Charged With Multiple Felonies For Firing Rubber Bullets At Journalists

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

From Washington, D.C. to Minneapolis, journalists covering the George Floyd protests have been the targets of police abuse. And in Detroit, a police officer who, according to prosecutors, fired rubber bullets at three journalists during a protest in late May is now facing felony assault charges.

The Detroit Free Press' Frank Witsil reports that on Monday, July 20, 32-year-old Detroit police officer Daniel Debono was charged with multiple accounts of felony assault. Debono is facing nine counts altogether: three accounts per journalist.

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GOP Lawmakers Smear Protesters As ‘Organized Crime,’ Demand FBI Action

Congressional Republicans from the House Freedom Caucus on Thursday held an event to attack the protest movement that has risen up against racism and police violence following the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his throat for more than 8 minutes while Floyd pleaded that he could not breathe.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), chair of the caucus, called on federal prosecutors to utilize the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against protesters. RICO was passed to in the 1970s, originally to target the Mafia.

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George Floyd Changed My Mind

For many years, I was skeptical about accusations of racism in the criminal justice system. Yes, I knew that blacks comprised only about 12 percent of the population yet represented 33 percent of the prison population. But those data alone did not prove that police are racists or that courts are tougher on blacks than others. The relevant criterion is not the percentage of the population, but the percentage of the criminal population, and when you consider the higher rates of offending among African Americans, the seemingly disproportionate rates of incarceration make sense.

Well, some countered, if you look at who winds up on death row, you can see the racism at work. Less than half of murder victims in the U.S. are white, yet a 2003 study found that 80 percent of inmates on death row had killed white people. I wasn't convinced. It might be evidence of racism, or it could be that when people kill others of their same race, they are more likely to know them. These could be crimes of passion and therefore less likely to draw the death penalty. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 2001 and 2005, nearly 78 percent of blacks were murdered by other blacks, and nearly 70 percent of whites were killed by other whites.

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A Breathless Moment In America

Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

They were relegated to the protest equivalent of a ghetto. Their assigned route shunted them to the far fringes of the city. Their demonstration was destined for an ignominious demise far from any main thoroughfare, out of sight of most apartment buildings, out of earshot of most homes, best viewed from a dinghy bobbing in the Hudson River.

Those at the head of the march had other ideas. After a brief stop at city hall, they turned the crowd onto the main drag, Washington Street, and for the next few hours, a parade of protesters snaked through Hoboken, New Jersey.

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How Right-Wing Spinmeisters Snip And Smear Joe Biden

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

George Floyd's killing by Minneapolis police triggered global protests against racism and police brutality and a seismic shift in U.S. public opinion. Former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden discussed this phenomenon at a Thursday event, saying that because technological advances allowed millions of Americans to see Floyd's killing on their phones, his death had a greater worldwide impact than that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Over the hours that followed, Biden's comment was ripped from its context and spun with fake outrage by pro-Trump right-wing activists and trolls, leading to a Fox & Friends segment Friday in which a Fox contributor falsely claimed that Biden had said Floyd "may have been a greater civil rights leader" than King.

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Trump Says Police Chokeholds Are ‘Perfect,’ While Protests Were ‘Riots’ And ‘Unnecessary’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump is weighing in on critical issues in the national conversation, by defending police chokeholds as "innocent," "perfect," and at times necessary, while suggesting that perhaps they should be banned, yet offering hypothetical examples of when they are necessary. He also says the nationwide protests against the killing of George Floyd, by a white police officer who pressed his knee into the unarmed, handcuffed, Black man's neck for nearly nine minutes, are not only "unnecessary," but "riots."

"I think the concept of chokeholds sounds so innocent, so perfect," Trump told Fox News host Harris Faulkner in a pre-recorded interview that aired Friday afternoon, "and then you realize if it's a one-on-one now if it's a two-on-one that's a little bit of a different story – depending – depending on the toughness and strength, you know we're talking about toughness and strength, we are talking there's a physical thing here also."

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#EndorseThis: Watch Spike Lee's Stunning Tribute To George Floyd

Believe it or not, Spike Lee is 63 years old -- but his voice is vital as ever. He is releasing a new feature (Da 5 Bloods) and last week delivered a compelling film tribute to George Floyd titled 3 Brothers. Every adult American should try to watch it, especially anyone who might not grasp the urgency of radical police reform.

Jimmy Fallon watched 3 Brothers debut on CNN and realized that his own audience ought to see it. He brought the great director on The Tonight Show to introduce and provide insightful commentary, which he does in trademark style.

Please be warned: This film includes graphic violence. It induces feelings of grief, rage, and perhaps shame. But that's the point.

View and share at your discretion.