Former Seattle Police Chief Says The Media Downplayed Violence In CHAZ/CHOP

Written by K. Walker on May 27, 2021

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The problem with Corporate Media bias isn’t just how it covers the news, it’s also what it chooses to cover.

On a recent episode of Jerry Ratcliffe’s “Reducing Crime” podcast, former Seattle Police Chief, Carmen Best, said that the Corporate Media deliberately manipulated the narrative by suppressing stories of violence that were occurring in the self-declared “autonomous zone” last summer.

She spoke about challenges faced by police departments in large cities with “so much going on.” Best also discussed her 28 years on the Seattle PD — two years as Chief — and her resignation spurred by the sudden funding cut by the Seattle City Council.

“After the George Floyd demonstrations and then, right into the CHAZ and the CHOP, it became really quite a challenge. Even then, though, something I was up for. But when it talked about literally the headlines were they’re going to reduce the budget by 50%, lay off 50% of the officers, the politics just became untenable,” she said, “The conversations, the meetings were occurring. I certainly wasn’t invited to them. I wasn’t a part of that conversion.”

Ratcliffe noted that it was just bizarre that the Seattle City Council didn’t back Best since she was a black woman with close connections to the community and had actively pushed for diversity in hiring practices.

“It just makes me wonder in the more progressive cities, which Seattle definitely is, is there anybody who could be progressive enough?” he asked. “You just had an impossible task, because you should fit perfectly for helping negotiating the city through this. You’ve strong ties with the community, being minority, being Black, being a woman, perfect for having that kind of level of empathy and connectivity. But it’s just like they steamrolled across the whole process.”

“All of that. Yeah, well, they had their own agenda there,” said Best. She then added, “Given the option of supporting this one woman out there or getting the policing all together, they’re trying to impact policing altogether. And I think there’s just so many complexities about why that happens.”

She spoke about how the wrongheaded “defund the police” action by the Seattle city council meant that laying off 50% of the officers meant that those who had been with the force for 10 years and fewer had to be cut, which would leave the force less diverse than it was.

The Daily Wire reported that Best resigned after $3 million was cut from the Seattle Police Department budget including:

  • Cut 32 officers from patrol – $533,000
  • Reduced specialized units including officers assigned to mounted unit, school resource officers, homeland security, harbor patrol, SWAT team – $250,000
  • Removed officers from Navigation Team, ensuring homeless neighbors are not retraumatized by armed patrol officers – $216,000
  • Reduced staff budget through recognizing expected attrition – $500,000
  • Reduced administrative costs, including salaries, community outreach, public affairs
  • Cut $56,000 from training and travel expenses
  • Cut recruitment and retention – $800,000
  • Transferred victim advocates from SPD to Human Services Department – $377,000 impact
  • Removed two sworn officer positions from the 911 Emergency Call Center

Also included in the funding was a 40% cut to Best’s salary, but she says that wasn’t the biggest motivator for her resignation — it was that the City Council demanded that she lay off 100 of the officers that they had given her funding to hire.

“They were more concerned about politics than public safety for sure. And now the tension is there. And no way was I backing off the fact that their decisions were reckless,” said Best. “They were not being thoughtful. They were going to really increase crime, increase detriment to the people in the city.”

At one point, Ratcliffe said that the Seattle PD and Best herself had been through so many contentious situations in the past 20 years. They spoke about the World Trade Organization (WTO) protests in 1999, May Day protests, and then the George Floyd protests.

BEST: Yeah. When WTO was there, I was a public information officer during that timeframe, just a crazy time. And so, I think there were a lot of lessons learned. And so, we felt really good. We learned how to handle demonstrations. We learned how to deal with them. We had May Day. We’ve had M30. We’ve got this down. And then, when the George Floyd protests came, those tactics that had been tried and true that we’ve worked on so diligently for almost two decades really weren’t working.

Obviously, it does disperse the crowd like it was supposed to. But the community feedback on it was so very strong about it and around it. And I was trying to think of why is it so different? But things change. People evolve. We had more people out there, more people who were average citizens out there, community members out there protesting and whatnot. I mean, thousands, way more than we’d ever had before. And in the midst of that, people who were bent on doing criminal activity and throwing rocks and bottles. And so, we did have to make those adjustments to disperse the crowd.

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. 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. I was behind a telephone pole —

RATCLIFFE: And then you read the media and find that they’re pretty much gaslighting you. It never happened.

BEST: 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.

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. But certainly, we were trying to look as non-threatening as possible, maybe not have the riot shields up. 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.

The full transcript can be found here.

She said that they were “gaslighting” her by calling the protests “mostly peaceful” and vilifying the police.

The Corporate Media is absolutely corrupt. Now that some places have cut funding to police, crime rates around the country are up staggering amounts.

The United States is less safe now than it was in 2018 thanks to the “defund the police” crowd fueled by the Corporate Media suppression of violence happening during the “mostly peaceful” but somewhat firey protests.

A wise man once said, “Fake News is the enemy of the people.” He was right.

ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll