What Happened After an Undercover Cop Elbowed Me at a Protest and Lied About It


You had me until the end. The presence of police, in uniform or plain clothes, has not had any chilling effect on any protest here in the last 10 years. Protesters in Seattle can say whatever they want with minimal fear of reprisals, there is no message that needs to be voiced that has been stifled. No one likes extra scrutiny, cops or protestors; but that's the way the game goes out here.
Dude, You work for The Stranger. A very biased paper, weekly, etc. I take your version with a Grain of Salt too. You have no credibility. So there's no reason to take you at your word. I don't care what OPA Murphy says. I don't like slanted journalism. Which is what you represent.

So, you maybe got a little elbow. Maybe you didn't. But real journalist who put themselves on the front lines get a lot more than what you did. Some even get killed doing their job. And you cry about a "Maybe Happened" elbow.

Eff You, Sack Up. and stop being a whiner.
@2...the reporter was "offended" by the assumed "elbow" and felt oppressed...the reporters "feelings" make excellent copy in and around Seattle. Next thing you know, there'll be an "elbows matter" protest.

Cut the wah-wah reporter some artistic license...har har!
I have to, somewhat, agree with @2; the journalism at the Stranger is very biased and facts are all too often cherry picked. While editorial attitude do come out in all forms of media it seems an extreme at the Stranger. It is sad that the Stranger has moved from true news journalism to more sensational tabloidism. A recent example that comes to mind regards an article about the re-opening of the nightclub Chop Suey trying to suggest the name of the club has racist overtones. I realize that it was a publicity stunt but exploiting racism to promote a club is an example of bad writing and yellow journalism.
Thanks, Ansel.
#2- by your logic, no one ought to ever be bothered by anything? I mean, after all, other people DIE doing what you're doing. That's true of reporters, cops, bus drivers, coal miners. Clowns. Dogs. Everyone.
Serious though, police are held to a standard. Like if i "accidentally" elbow a customer at my job, i get fired. Now if someone pulls a knife out, i can break their skull and take them down. But with people who are simply annoying me, I have a standard. The same standard that most of us have to live up to, which is called being a grown-up. We need policemen. But you can't just say, "i'm a cop, i can get pushy and physically intimidating with the general public because we all know i'm free to lay my hands on you or detain you for any reason, including spite."
Police work attracts bullies the way politics attracts egomaniacs. A bully won't be able to (or maybe won't want to) stop acting like a bully just because you put regular clothes on him.

Hey, you know who would make a GREAT plainclothes police officer? Cynthia Whitlatch!

@6 - no, I think @2 means nobody should ever be bothered by anything the police do. Because whatever it is, it's obviously justified by the fact that they are police and you are not.
How can the officer, or any public employee be sanctioned based on intuition? There is no objective evidence to substantiate either parties claim. It violates the Garity string of cases and the employees 14th Amendment rights. Public employees are not, "at will" employees that can be fired or disciplined for cause or no cause at all at the whim of the employer. They are citizens who would be denied public employment, promotion, without due process of law and substantiated cause. Public employees are different because their employer is the government and the government cannot deny a citizen a benefit or a right without due process.


That said, Officers of SPD have stronger protections in their contract than due process requires. Who signed off on that contract? Ed Murray.
Wow people are defending the police here. True this was a little incident, but it speaks large about the whole mindset of the police. "I can say or do anything I want and get away with it." What Ansel says is true, if HE had elbowed the police he would have been arrested and a whole slew of charges pushed against him. And why plainclothes cops? Why are the police spying on us? Why not regular uniform cops? The whole thing smacks of dishonesty and sleaze.
Yes, The Stranger is biased, and facts are too often cherry picked, or something. Blah blah. Even though time and again they break stories and are shown to be absolutely correct. I mean that's why The Stranger has Justice Department sanctions against them. Oh, wait.

Just like comments 1-4 aren't posted by SPOG member burner accounts. Or knuckledragging Limbaugh listener types who are intellectual honesty challenged, and love them some auth-or-it-tay, so long as its authority not applied to limit them, but brown people or others they don't like, or any other persons whose situation said conservatives are too empathy repaired to be able to understand.
According to your report,
"'Undercover" officers, in the department's nomenclature, are officers who are deliberately adopting the identity of someone else. But the popular term is "undercover," so I'll keep using it here.)'"

Ansel, people – including writers with journalism degrees from UT [Hook'em Horns!] who should know better – frequently misuse standard terms. It is not a reasonable defense for pro writers in widely-distributed publications to misuse such terms under flimsy guises such as: 1) It makes me sound cool and edgy; 2) All the kids are misstating this way; 3) I'm too lazy to check it out; etc.
"Plainclothes" means exactly that (think dorky guy in the park with black socks and Members Only windbreaker) – and is not to be confused with "undercover" (think Donnie Brasco). And just for the hell of it, when you record an audio video event on your phone, you are definitely NOT "filming."
Never go alone. At least have an intern "photographer" or something.
Even though the incident was an absurdly minor one, it's tapping into something that's just entering the national conversation: the culture of lying about shit by police. Lying in court, lying in reports, etc. I know they have hard jobs and the system should recognize the stress they work under by rewarding honesty even when it doesn't make the cop look good. But the lying has to stop.
Here's the thing, the city has lost countless millions, year in and year out, in out-of-court settlement payments to plaintiffs agains the SPD behavior, which has become routine, as if flushing away all those many millions of dollars couldn't have been better spent!?!?!?!

The corrupt politicians and crooked police have become the mainstay today in America, and the only way it will change is if they are no longer a protected class, the only group whose jobs still cannot be offshored or replaced with foreign visa scab workers.

Throughout Asia, many regional police are now Sikhs from India --- so why not, under exsting foreign visa laws, begin replacing the SPD personnel with Sikhs from India, structuring it as with the private sector, ratcheting down their salaries, no more perks, and automatic firing everytime any out-of-court settlements come due, so that the same coppers aren't costing the citizenry year in and year out?

"It's true that SPOG's contract with the city specifies that dishonesty is grounds for termination"

And yet Ronald Hylton, attempted frame-job perpetrator and proven liar, not only still a cop, also remains on the SPOG board.
Hurrrm, sgt_doom says something non-crazy.
You don't end up under a consent decree from the Justice Department because you're doing everything right but the stupid whiny liberals are just picking on you. SPD has broken the public trust and must earn it back.

Whatever you think of Ansel's personal politics, this is what I know: I have met and spoken to Ansel before, and it is absolutely clear to me that he takes his professional responsibilities seriously as a journalist. His reputation, unlike SPD's, is intact.
Not required to identify yourself as an officer? Yeah you might want to reevaluate that. If you are not an officer and bump into my I might defend myself against your face.
Sgt. Doom, You wrote, "automatic firing everytime any out-of-court settlements come due," 1st, cities make many out of court settlements for employee actions or omissions, not just police or fire employees, as a matter of routine. So do private employers. They do so without admissions of wrongdoing. It costs, on average $250,000 in legal, investigative, and other costs to get to the courthouse door. Go through a trial and that can rise to $450,000. So then the City or private employer gets a verdict in their favor. For example see page 2 here http://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departm… The City prevailed, but spent hundreds of thousands to do so. The city or private employer can't recover those costs because either the judge refuses to award them, or most commonly, the plaintiff lacks sufficient income and assets, to have a bankruptcy court order them paid. So cities and private employers often settle for $50,000 to $70,000 with no admission of wrongdoing to save taxpayers, shareholders, or their insurance company $190,000 or more. Spending $190,000 or $400,000 to be right is poor use of taxpayer money. Anyone can allege anything. Anyone can file a lawsuit for a $460 filing fee. If they make it past summary judgment, when a judge looks to see if there is a strong enough POSSIBILITY (not probability) that the plaintiff MIGHT have a case to allow the case to go forward (very few are dismissed, because the bar is so low for what can go forward), then the legal fees really start skyrocketing. So you want to fire every city employee that had someone with an ax to grind hire an attorney, file a lawsuit, and make it past summary judgment? We won't have any employees left, anywhere, on the public payroll, or cities will start fighting these all the way to a jury verdict to have the plaintiff win a zero of $1 verdict, and the city will pay $450,000 in legal fees every time. Brilliant!
I wonder if Mr. Herz or some other writers for the stranger have ever gone undercover and perhaps did not identify themselves when asked; or maybe even lied when asked. I do not believe the police were spying at all. Demonstrating is a right but sometimes elements with their own agenda use the cover of a demonstration to cause a riot. Witness WTO.
The comparison of peaceful protestors to drug dealers is seriously disturbing.
Do not, repeat, do not take legal advice from self-taught lawyer georgeingeorgetown.
As @12 pointed out, there is a real distinction between "undercover" and "plainclothes" and it's important in this instance. A real undercover cop wouldn't have to talk to you at all or identify himself.
That aside, yeah these cops were acting like jerks. Big surprise. That doesn't mean we shouldn't have cops, even plainclothes ones at protests, just that we really need to get better ones and have them do a better job.
I'd like to propose a new round of "Get Tough on Crime" laws:
Unprovoked criminal act by a public officer of official, while serving as such: Life imprisonment without parole. Aggravated? Death Penalty. Mitigated? Loss of citizenship.

If it worked in getting civilians to clean up their act, it oughta work on police officers too!
There is no exemption for illegal activities by plainclothes police from their State Constitutional requirements, no matter what their attorneys or spokespersons tell you.

Illegal is illegal.
Agree with #2.

Also, I know there's a problem with police in general in the U.S. And I know that the SPD has a bad track record in the past several years (shootings, beatings, false arrests etc.). But I also think if the heavily slanted Stranger is reporting on an "elbow" and supposed lie, maybe the SPD has come a long way in the past several years? Maybe they're making progress?

At what point do we stop reporting about seemingly trivial encounters and focus on the substantial stuff? I understand the the Stranger promotes accountability for the police, but I also think the Stranger loses credibility by blowing an "elbow" out of proportion.
@27 do you really think that the same cops have changed? Have you ever heard that stupid thug who heads the police guild talk? He's never seen an illegal use of force in his life.
I hope activists start rolling apps like this regularly at their marches:



I'd love to see drones rocking 360degree cameras too - operated by marchers for protection of their first amendment rights.
You guys commenting do realize that the first few commenters (and many many more) likely ARE SPD officers, right?

Along with stormfront, chimpout, kkk.org, therant.yuku, theblaze, and drudgereport, trolling sites that report police abuse is what these 100,000k a year, bigoted, asshats in a badge do for kicks. When they arent kicking their wives or protesters or someone with the nerve of walking/driving in public while being black.

I have spoken with officers in the WSP, SPD, and KCSD (or former officers). They come in two types. Mice and rats. The mice are quietly aware of the rats, but dont want to shake the system because the rats run it. The rats are the violent, bullying, bigots like this guy, or Whitlach, or Caballero, or Burke, or Darren Wilson or any other bigoted raging cop.

When you ask (and many have) "Whats with all the racism/abuse from ________-department"

Mice answer: "Well, there are a lot of racists, yes, but thats not all cops".

Rats answer: "Ive never seen any racism"/"Maybe you should stop listening to those people bringing their race card issues"/"Its not race based, its based on 'those peoples' defective, subhuman, criminal culture *ie, its culture....that all people who are black have thus should all be abused as such*"

As far as the OPA office, YOU GUYS KNOW THAT 3 OF THE 5 MEMBERS are cops/excops right? And that the other 2 worked for or with cops in their careers (one was an ex Seattle teacher who pressed to get them into minority schools, the other owns some business that catered to cops if what I heard is correct). Why are you shocked they came to that conclusion?

Didnt the times (of all news orgs) report that 98% of all complaints made to the OPA from 2010 to 2014 were dismissed? The Wolves are guarding the henhouse, with their bitches.
Did not mean to connect that full .org link there above.
@29 maybe not. Maybe SPD hasnt made much progress. But i just dont think this article is news.
Entire situation can be summed up with the following: ya fucking pansy.
So you go elbowed.... grow a pair and become a real reporter. oh here's a thought: everyone must matter or nobody matters. that includes the police.
@34, @35 @36 @37-

4 posts by the same bigoted Cop. For a bunch of pussies who bitch when newspapers call out their bigotry, you kids have some fucking nerve calling your VICTIMS pansys. What do you call your wives when you beat them?

Lol. Take that racist troll shit back to stormfront, officer!
(The department prefers the word "plainclothes" to "undercover" for describing officers who are trying—and sometimes failing—to blend in and not be noticed. "Undercover" officers, in the department's nomenclature, are officers who are deliberately adopting the identity of someone else. But the popular term is "undercover," so I'll keep using it here.)

Sorry, Ansel, if you want to be taken seriously AT ALL you cannot just pick a term to fit your narrative. A now false narrative, considering the word you chose is not factually correct. Your job as a journalist is to convey to the reader what the correct term is. There was a time when a piece like this wouldn't even make it past the fact checking segment of a J-101 class. You guys do fact check over at The Stranger, right? RIGHT???
I don't think there is any fact checking at all; I think that many of the stories are just made up to suit a particular purpose. Kind of like the way Rolling Stone magazine makes up their stories.
@41 You are Ron Smith, king dumbshit at SPOG. Pathetic how amazingly stupid you are.
Oh Ansel, why can't you ever be content just to report the news? Are you worried that the facts themselves are not enough for people to get as angry as you are?
But the popular term is "undercover," so I'll keep using it here.

As explained @12, @24, @39, this is bull. There is a distinction between undercover and plainsclothes policing. That distinction is well understood by the public. The popular term is not "undercover"--the popular term is to use the proper term to distinguish between two different concepts.

This it is a distinction with a difference. Just look at the current scandal in the UK as the public and the government try to make sense of the overreach that resulted in undercover cop Bob Lambert infiltrating an environmental group and having a child with one of the activists. Or John Towery, the undercover military police who infiltrated an Olympia activist group back in 2007. THAT is undercover policing, and it is a far more serious charge than plainclothes policing of an event. It is reasonable for police to monitor an event held in a public place, where past experience tells us that the event has the potential to shift from a peaceful protest to a WTO-style riot. If Seattle isn't doing plainclothes right--fine, report on that. But call it what it is. Undercover policing represents a far greater threat to First Amendment rights, and is far more likely to chill expression, than plainclothes policing--it creates (and is at times intended to create) a 1984-style paranoia in which activists have a harder time organizing because they cannot trust one another.

Applying the more serious label to the less serious charge is pure propaganda. Which is par for your course, sadly. You just don't know how not to overplay a winning hand.
"two unarmed African American men killed by police"

What's "unarmed" got to do with the price of tea in Red China? There are plenty of legal, moral, and ethical reasons to use deadly force against an "unarmed" person. This isn't the movies or some crappy TV detective drama. This is real life.
I didn't have space to explain this in the story, folks, but SPD itself uses "undercover," the more widely understood term, to selectively advertise the deployment of plainclothes officers: