Police Chief Adrian Diaz has vowed to arrest and prosecute more protestors who cause damage to Seattle businesses.
A police department spokeswoman told The Seattle Times that the crackdown followed a conversation between Chief Diaz and City Attorney Pete Holmes.
Over the past year, Seattle has seen many peaceful protests since the killing of George Floyd. However, some have used these protests as an opportunity to vandalize businesses downtown, on Capitol Hill, and in the International District. This vandalism has caused property damage and traumatized workers in those businesses. The Times reports that protestors suspected in lower-level crimes last year were not booked into jail over fears of spreading the coronavirus.
As a result of the new policy, police spokeswoman Valerie Carson said it is more likely that a suspect out on bail would now be prosecuted for vandalism. Since last spring, about 600 people have been arrested for violence or property damage during protests in Seattle, Diaz said.
A spokesman for Pete Holmes emphasized that the City Attorney is not interested in prosecuting peaceful demonstrators.
“When people are arrested, prosecutors review the cases to assess the available evidence, the context of the arrest, and whether a jury of Seattleites would find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” the City Attorney’s spokesman Dan Nolte wrote in an email.