Fmr. Seattle Police chief: Media purposely downplayed level of violence inside CHOP zone

Former Seattle Police chief Carmen Best suggested in a new interview that the mainstream media intentionally downplayed the level of violence in the “CHOP” autonomous zone briefly established in the city last year following the death of George Floyd.

Specifically, Best told Jerry Ratcliff’s “Reducing Crime” podcast, reports were crafted to make it appear as though the zone was just an area established for police-free peaceful protest when in reality it was dangerous and unsafe.

She said that the media failed to cover the “destructive behavior” inside the zone, officially designated as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest by organizers, which led Americans to believe that all was well.

“And the other thing that I found very curious during that time frame was that the destructive behavior, for whatever reason, I’m not sure if there’s a political reason or otherwise, did not get the level of publicity or media attention as … I would read stories about the peaceful protests,” Best explained.

“I go, ‘well, part of it was peaceful.’ But I was standing 20 feet away from a hail of rocks. I was looking right at them hail down, feet from me,” she said.

The former chief went on to agree with Ratcliffe who offered that the media was “gaslighting” her and trying to get her and others to believe that the violence and destruction they were witnessing wasn’t real.

“Yeah, it’s like, ‘What?’ No. It was just a peaceful protest and the police just unleashed this tear gas and pepper spray. And it just wasn’t true. I mean, we did do it. And we obviously did it for reasons. And maybe in hindsight, maybe some of those times we could have waited longer or did something differently,” she said.

“Obviously when you look back at things, you have more clarity. But the fact of the matter is it did happen and there were reasons. It wasn’t arbitrary,” she continued.

She went on to discuss why she had her officers equipped in riot gear near the zone — for their own protection.

“We were trying to look as non-threatening as possible, maybe not have the riot shields up,” she said.

“But once we know we’re going to be getting rocks and bottles thrown at us, I have a responsibility as a chief to make sure people have protecting gear. We can’t just leave them out there with soft hat and rocks are being thrown and whatever,” Best continued.

The chief resigned from her position as head of the Seattle P.D. in August after the Democrat-run city council voted to cut police funding, which would create mass layoffs within the department.

“The Council gave us $1.6 million to hire the best, brightest and most diverse. Now they want me to lay off 100 of those officers. I can’t do that,” she tweeted in August 2020.

“I wanted you to hear this from me, but some media have reached this conclusion on their own,” Best wrote in an email to city and police officials. “This was a difficult decision for me, but when it’s time, it’s time.”

Within days of the zone being established by anarchist protesters, crime and violence spiked, according to reports. City officials finally decided to move to dismantle the zone after a third shooting in as many weeks.

Shortly after the zone was set up, Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan compared to a “Summer of Love” demonstration.

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Jon Dougherty

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