Adrian Diaz, Seattle Interim Police Chief condemned the recent violence and unrest in the city and called for an end to property damage and assaults on police officers.
Díaz, during a press conference on Sunday, called for an end to the violence after a series of destructive protests in the city that included damage to the property of businesses and city hall, fires in the middle of the streets and officers attacked by protesters who threw stones, bottles of water and explosives.
The Seattle Police Department (SPD) said it has made over a dozen arrests as people continue to take to the streets protesting.
Diaz said he supports first amendment freedoms and peaceful demonstrations, but said the calls for change are “being drowned out by relentless violence, mayhem and illegal behavior."
“Recent events are not exercising first amendment freedoms,” said Diaz. “They are lawlessness for an apparent singular goal for destruction.”
Last week, a protester hit an SPD officer in the head with a baseball bat during a demonstration in Capitol Hill. Diaz said he has little doubt that if the officer hadn’t been wearing a helmet when they were hit, the officer would have sustained a “critical or deadly injury.”
“This is not how Seattle creates change,” said Diaz. “We cannot, and do not, accept putting the lives of our community at risk with criminal and reckless behavior. The violence has to stop, and we need every member of this community to demand this end as well.”
Díaz also referred to reports of violence by officers during the protests. Last week, an SPD officer was placed on leave after the officer was seen on video rolling his bicycle over a person lying on the street during a protest on Capitol Hill.
“I know some will state the [violent behavior against officers] is justified because of the actions of some of the police officers,” said Diaz. “What I know is that here in Seattle, our robust accountability system will investigate any and every complaint against officers, and I will hold those accountable when the evidence shows it is deserved.”
The SPD said after it was made aware of the incident, it immediately activated the Force Investigation Team (FIT) to document and investigate the use of force.
While Diaz took a stand, so did Seattle’s business community.
Todd Biesold, CFO of Merlino Foods in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood, is one of hundreds of concerned members of Seattle's business community who signed a pledge asking for Seattle City Council to acknowledge the community’s safety concerns before voting to overrule the Mayor Jenny Durkan's veto on defunding SPD.
“I just don't understand what the benefit is of letting these guys just bust the hell out of everything every night,” said Biesold.
Biesold feels the city, especially the city council, is not listening.
“It’s sad and dismaying that they’re, they can’t see the water for the trees,” he said.
“We cannot do this work by creating a new model for community safety while fires burn in our streets, windows are breaking, officers are injured every night and community members are placed at risk,” Diaz added. “This is not what Seattle is all about, and this is not who we want to be.”