BELLEVUE, Wash. — Evidence that Bellevue police found revealed peaceful protests could have taken a violent turn on Saturday.
Law enforcement discovered weapons and gear stashed away before a crowd of protesters had marched through downtown.
“I thought more people showed up than what we were expecting, but we were prepared for it,” said Bellevue police chief Steve Mylett.
Police said they prepared themselves for some in the group to turn violent.
Mylett said they received information from the Seattle Police Department and through other avenues that some protesters were also involved in the Seattle protests, which had turned violent.
“Their intention was to repeat the same type of behavior here in Bellevue, and that is to break windows, to engage in property destruction, set dumpsters on fire,” Mylett said.
The chief said when the group showed up, protesters geared up in protective gear like shields, gas masks and body armor.
Officers also found evidence that revealed planned violence in the week leading up to Saturday night.
“We had already found stashes of buckets of bricks and rocks. We also knew they were doing some recon in the days leading up to this. One of the businesses here found propane tanks stuffed in the bushes,” Mylett said.
The chief said officers went door to door to businesses, warning them of what might happen, and some decided to board up.
The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce stated shops were worried.
“We fielded dozens of emails and phone calls over the last 48 hours,” said Joe Fain with the Chamber of Commerce.
However, police said they pushed their resources to the downtown core and relied on neighboring agencies to help respond to other calls, keeping counter-protesters apart when necessary. The city also declared an emergency, banning weapons.
“Why wasn’t there violence? I believe it’s because of the way in which we prepared,” said Mylett. “No injuries to anybody, officers, protesters. The community was safe.”
Back in May, almost every shop at a strip mall was smashed in during a protest, giving reason why there was so much caution Saturday.
Police said they are also preparing for protests after the election, which could take a violent turn.
Cox Media Group