A strained and solemn video of Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best was just "leaked" to the public—on SPD's official YouTube account.
In the video, Best commiserates with her officers about "one of the toughest times ever" while shirking blame for the decision to leave the East Precinct on Capitol Hill, which protesters made into the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone once the police left. Best says that the "city had other plans for the building" and SPD was forced to leave. She assures her officers that "although it may not seem true in this moment, your community cares about you."
Best makes apologies and consolations. “We know this has had an impact on your families,” Best says, without mention that an East Precinct cop's brother has just been charged with shooting a protester last week.
Best does also cite "threats to a news reporter on Capitol Hill," where protesters harassed Q13 reporter Brandi Kruse and her armed private security team. But no mention of journalists being hurt police actions. Journalists across the city have been tear-gassed for nearly two weeks, many at the East Precinct, one got hit by a flashbang, another was manhandled, and the list could go on.
Best also takes the time to spread rumors about the CHAZ as fact—many of the same rumors that SPD peddled at a press conference yesterday.
She did not provide any specific evidence for either of these claims, which I have seen reported as fact by other outlets. I am not reporting them as fact, just repeating what the police are currently claiming about some of the demonstrators on Capitol Hill.
— Erica C. Barnett (@ericacbarnett) June 10, 2020
Best claims that armed people are patrolling the area, that they're "demanding payment" from businesses in the area, and that they're "demanding to see identification" from residents.
The business development manager of the Capitol Hill chamber of commerce told to a Seattle Times reporter that no businesses had contacted her about any kind of extortion. The only people I saw checking ID in the past 10 days have been police who barricaded the path to people's apartments in the blocks around East Precinct.
Christina Arrington, the business development manager of the Capitol Hill neighborhood chamber of commerce, says she has not heard from businesses that they’ve been extorted by protestors. https://t.co/8nYerfJRG0 pic.twitter.com/qTm9jgZyBZ
— Katherine Khashimova Long (@_katya_long) June 11, 2020
“I'm angry about how this all came about and I understand my comments and this message may be leaked to the public,” Best says in the public video. "I'm not concerned. I stand by what I'm saying."
Best has put herself on the side of officers. While they're serving under her commands, she is at the mercy of Mayor Jenny Durkan's orders. She's as upset as they are, she assures them, and she doesn't give a damn who knows it! Let them leak this public video! Let 'em leak it. Cops across the country are fleeing their posts and quitting their jobs. SPD already has a history of poor retention and it'll be hard to justify dumping more money into signing bonuses when public trust with the police has eroded and the Seattle City Council is deadset on cutting SPD costs. So, it seems, this is Best's strategy.