Seattle police defend decision to keep Sunday's rallies separate

VIDEO: Seattle police defend decision not to let dueling protests meet

Tension filled the air Sunday as hundreds of anti-Trump protesters marched the half mile from Denny Park to downtown Seattle.

Some demonstrators attempted to run past Seattle police and their reinforcements to get to Westlake Park. Others angrily pelted officers with silly string and glitter bombs.

And there was anger. One man told KIRO 7 he thought the police were there to project interests of elites.

Content Continues Below

On Monday, Assistant Seattle Police Chief Steve Wilske defended his decision to keep the groups separate.

"We had a small group within the larger march that were clearly, in my experience, clearly there for violence," he said.

Wilske said he feared an explosive mix.

"If I would have allowed that entire march to go there, there is no way I'm going to keep those people from fighting," he said.  "And once that fight starts, you're going to have, potentially have, Charlottesville. You're going to have what happened in Portland in June. And I can't."

Among those upset was Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien.

"I'm going to respect some hard decisions they had to make," said O'Brien.  "But we're going to ask some questions next week."

"Questions about?" he was asked.

"Why were demonstrators not allowed to make it to Westlake Park?" O'Brien said.

Wilske said he’ll explain his decision to O’Brien or anyone else.

“If I have to do that to keep people from getting hurt, then that's my responsibility,” Wilske said. “I have to do that."

The Assistant Chief said he took no pleasure in keeping the protesters out of Westlake Park.

But he says look at the stats: just three arrests, officers with a few bumps and bruises, and no property damage.  That, he said, is pretty close to a complete success.