SEATTLE, WA – A misinformation campaign was discovered among the Seattle Police Department (SPD) from the 2020 summer rioting by the Office of Police Accountability (OPA).
Reportedly, a precinct commander approved a “misinformation effort” to allow officers to speak about an armed group of Proud Boys (who often has had run-ins with Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and the like) that wasn’t actually there.
According to the report, on June 8, 2020, the same day that SPD abandoned the east precinct on Capitol Hill during the formation of the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or “CHAZ,” police came up with a ruse to attempt to quell violence and force rioters to leave the area.
Some false statements police said on the radio included, “It looks like a few of them might be open carrying,” and, “Hearing from the Proud Boys group…They may be looking for somewhere else for confrontation.” Apparently, those monitoring police channels posted the information on social media, which caused chaos.
OPA Director Andrew Myerberg concluded that the ruse “improperly added fuel to the fire.”
“The use of the Proud Boys when it was known that the transmissions would be monitored took a volatile situation and made it even more so,” Myerberg said.
Myerberg said that the ruse also violated department policy, and that “multiple police leaders” knew about the acts.
Captain Bryan Grenon came up with the ruse. During the investigation, he said he was looking for “an innocent way to just throw out some distraction” to the riots. This was especially needed because of the violence of the situation and extreme staffing shortages.
Additionally, Captain Grenon said that the faked conversations were meant to “get [protesters] into other areas,” as “we were overrun with, you know, forces or protesters. It was never my intent to cause alarm. Hindsight is 20/20.”
The Seattle Times reported, “The two employees who ordered and supervised the misinformation effort and who Myerberg sustained allegations of policy violations against have already left the department, according to the case summary.”
However, Myerberg also said that he did not recommend discipline against the two officers involved in the ruse. He said they showed poor judgement, but ultimately the leaders were responsible for the ploy and for “failing to provide adequate supervision.”
The investigation was launched because Converge Media journalist Omari Salisbury asked for body cam footage related to police interaction with the the Proud Boys, but the footage wasn’t able to be located.