City Council takes on claims of May Day cover up by Seattle police

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SEATTLE —

The Seattle City Council  took on  claims that there was a cover up by the Seattle Police Department regarding its performance during last year's May Day protests when a group of anarchists jumped out of the crowd and started smashing windows. 

 How long it took to get the chaos under control was the issue.

 Both SPD's internal report and one from an outside consultant claimed that planning for the day was insufficient and that officers were confused about who was in charge and when they could use force to stop violent or illegal behavior.          

 The outside consultant's report said that from 12-3 p.m., "The Seattle Police Department was unsuccessful in stopping the violent destruction of property."

 It also called into question the role of Capt. Joe Kessler, who learned he would be incident commander only a week before May Day.

 Reports said during the violence, Kessler was not "engaged," and failed to adapt to changing circumstances.

 The Seattle Times reported that the union which represents lieutenants and captains, including Kessler, is accusing the department of a coverup.

 The Seattle Police Management Association said Chief John Diaz and command staff worked to steer the reports away from what really happened and to downplay the responsibility of Assistant Chief Mike Sanford.

 According to the Seattle Times, a report written by Kessler criticized Sanford, calling him "unprepared."

 Kessler's report said the assistant chief endangered marchers and police when he bolted into the crowd to make an arrest and had to be rescued.

 The Times and city council members also complained that it took too long for Seattle police to release the reports.

 The Seattle City Council Public Safety Committee discussed the reports Wednesday afternoon and city council members grilled top police leaders on last year’s failures, knowing May Day is two weeks away.

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Essex Porter spoke with Public Safety Chair Bruce Harrell, who promised a better May Day response this year.

“I have every expectation that this May Day is going to go well. We’re prepared to help it go well,” said Harrell.