The Seattle City Council temporarily suspended its weekly briefing Monday morning after people upset with the Seattle Police Department’s handling of recent anti-police brutality demonstrations began shouting and singing.
Several council members left the council chambers after audience members broke up a presentation by representatives from the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
Many people who had shared concerns during a public comment period at the beginning of the briefing raised their fists in the air and sang the words, “Justice for Mike Brown,” a reference to the fatal police shooting last year in Ferguson, Missouri, that didn’t result in an indictment of the officer.
During the public comment period, speakers chastised the police department for responding to mostly peaceful demonstrations by dispatching officers armed with pepper spray and dressed in riot gear.
Former state Senate candidate Jess Spear, of the Socialist Alternative party, asked why officers had “used their bikes as weapons” against demonstrators.
The briefing resumed after Councilmember Bruce Harrell conferred with several demonstrators. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole and other Seattle Police Department officials began answering questions as part of scheduled appearance to discuss their handling of the local protests that followed the Ferguson, Mo., decision and the subsequent one by a Staten Island-grand jury not to indict a white officer in the choking death of a black man.
O’Toole said her department’s goal is to facilitate peaceful protests while protecting all members of the public and property, including demonstrators and officers.
She told the council the department’s Office of Professional Accountability, which handles internal investigations, was looking into one complaint against an officer stemming from the protests. That case involves a use of force, OPA Director Pierce Murphy said afterward.
O’Toole reiterated her message during an impromptu sidewalk discussion with several protesters that occurred outside of City Hall after the council meeting.
She told the group she was open to suggestions for handling protests in the future and urged them to officially report any complaints.