‘Meet peace with peace’: Chief Best, Mayor Durkan address ongoing protests in Seattle

SEATTLE — Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and Mayor Jenny Durkan discussed the ongoing demonstrations held throughout Seattle during a news conference Sunday night.

Much of their focus was on the demonstrations that have continued outside of the department’s East Precinct in Capitol Hill.

The news conference finished about a half hour before police said a man was shot outside of the precinct.

Best said the department’s goal is always to “meet peace with peace” and thanked the many peaceful protesters who have demonstrated in recent days.

However, Best said there have been “bad actors” in some crowds who come “in an organized effort to incite violence.”

Best highlighted the clash between some protesters and officers outside of the East Precinct on Saturday night as an example of recent violence.

Clash outside of East Precinct

Six officers were injured and two were hospitalized when protesters began throwing bottles and other “incendiary devices,” Best said.

Best said no tear gas was deployed and things calmed down in about 30 minutes. She said she always expects officers to have a “proportional response to any action from the crowd.”

Moving forward, Best said the department will continue to add additional ways to de-escalate the Capitol hill situation.

Specifically, according to Best, the department will significantly reduce the visibility of officers outside the East Precinct and will remove some of the protective gear officers wear.

Mayor Durkan standing by Chief Best

For the first time since the protests began, Durkan openly criticized the Seattle Police Department for its handling of the protest outside the East Precinct Saturday night.

Durkan said the department “needed to be better," but she stood by Best’s continuing efforts during the ongoing protests.

Durkan then expanded on the department’s commitment to being a leader in using de-escalation tactics.

Durkan highlighted Best’s leadership during what she called “unprecedented times” and said the expects the department to stay committed to a culture of continuous and transparent reforms.

“Mayors come and Mayors go but cultural reform is most enduring,” Durkan said.

Addressing systemic inequities

Durkan said she has met with Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and other community groups over the past few days to help with cultural reform.

“We’ve discussed how to move forward and how to address systemic inequities in our city,” Durkan said.

Durkan then gave examples of how she says the city is committed to addressing the inequities including sending an emergency order Monday to the City Council requiring officers to have their body cameras on during demonstrations.

“I believe we can make that step now instead of waiting for final recommendations,” Durkan said.

Durkan highlighted Best’s issuing of a directive to all officers to remove their mourning band to make their badge number visible.

“This seems simple, but there’s been reports that officers continue to have tape over there badge numbers. That is a violation of policy,” Durkan said.

Watch a replay of the news conference below: