Seattle, WA — After the death of George Floyd in May, protests around the country began popping up and Americans witnessed a level of unprecedented police brutality as a result. In Seattle, Wash., we were shown that even small children were not safe from the often retaliatory force used by riot police. When a 7-year-old little boy was doused with pepper spray by Seattle police, many Americans were outraged, and rightfully so. Now, there is reason for even more outrage as police claim the use of pepper spray on the child was "lawful and proper."
The civilian-run Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released a video compilation of the incident including bystander video and body camera video this month, along with their decision to rule the incident justified. OPA also released a statement for the reason they ruled the use of force justified, noting that they know it won't go over well.
“OPA understands that this decision will be unpalatable to some and perhaps to many. This is understandable. In some respects, it is unpalatable to OPA,” the report said.
The report pointed out, as the video shows, that police were facing off with protesters who remained entirely peaceful until the officers began pushing them back. The protesters, including the father of the boy who was pepper sprayed were yelling at police, calling them "scary motherf******!" and "Terrorists!"
According to the report, the reason for justifying the pepper spraying of the boy is that it wasn't directly aimed at him. Police claim that the boy was "inadvertently" hit when they sprayed a woman nearby who allegedly grabbed an officer's baton and yelled, “Don’t push me, you move back,” as police tried to move a line of protesters standing in Westlake Plaza.
After the video of the child getting hit with the pepper spray was posted online, the department received over 13,000 complaints over this single incident forcing an OPA review. It prompted the Seattle City Council to pass Ordinance 126102, which creates a legal cause of action for individuals “affected” by pepper spray during a demonstration.
According to OPA, the new ordinance is in place to “deter similar incidents from occurring in the future and, at the very least, will provide a legal and monetary remedy.”
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“This is one of the hardest cases that I, as the OPA Director, have had to consider during my nearly three years in office,” OPA Director Andrew Myerberg wrote in the report. “Certainly, there has never been a case that received as many complaints.”
While many folks will question the idea of a father bringing a 7-year-old boy to a protest, it speaks to the nature of how peaceful they were, initially. The overwhelming majority of the protests all began peacefully and only devolved into riots and looting as pressure increased from police. TFTP reported on multiple incidents in which protests were entirely peaceful but turned violent after police attacked peaceful people.
TFTP reported on one incident over the weekend in which a cop fired a tear gas grenade at point blank range at an entirely innocent and peaceful protester. The disturbing incident happened on May 30 during the beginning of the unrest and nearly four months later, we found out that the cop received a measly two-day suspension.
After investigating their own officer, the Grand Rapids Police Department found no criminal act, only a violation of his training.
As WZZM reported, Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said that it is virtually impossible to bring charges against an officer who is working to disperse a riot or unlawful assembly, per Michigan law.
Adding to the insulting nature of the cop's "discipline" is the fact that after he shot the man with the tear gas, the protests turned into chaos as people began to riot in response to the police violence.