On Thursday federal prosecutors charged Desmond David-Pitts with arson for setting a fire outside the East Precinct Monday night.
According to the complaint, an officer said security footage showed David-Pitts, who was wearing "distinctive pink camouflage trousers," appearing to "use a lighter in his hand to start a fire on one of the garbage bags" thrown against the station's 12th Ave garage door.
Two minutes after lighting the fire, cops exited out of a nearby door and extinguished the flames of that fire, plus another one lit near the station wall. Cops claimed other protesters "used a metal rod to barricade the door shut, and used a canister of rapidly drying liquid cement in an attempt to strengthen the barricade and seal the door shut." It's unclear whether other exits were similarly barred.
David-Pitts admitted to setting the fire during a police interview. "I'm accountable," he reportedly told police.
The crowd, now largely diminished, lit a few small fires down pike as they continued their march.
— Rich Smith (@richsssmith) August 25, 2020
Earlier that day, David-Pitts joined the Morning Marchers during a meeting with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes at Seattle Central College. In his brief exchange with Holmes, David-Pitts expressed frustration with the criminal justice system.
"You say you want to help us, but community implementation and accountability matters. My brother was 16, got killed by police in Alaska—no justice," David-Pitts can be heard saying. "Republican states do Republican things and money's going to put us to waste. That’s heart. You want me to put that in a report and tell them? What’s that going to do for me? Tell me that.”
Alaska’s KTUU interviewed David-Pitts after an Anchorage cop shot and killed his 16-year-old brother, Lufilufilimalelei Polu, last February. Cops said Polu shot at them during a traffic stop, and they produced a badge hit by a bullet during the altercation. The Alaska Office of Special Prosecutions said the officer who shot and killed Polu was “justified” in doing so, according to KTVA.
Deputy Chief Adrian Diaz, who was selected as interim Chief to replace retiring Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best, suggested the charges will serve to deter protesters from starting fires in the future. “We are hopeful that the federal charges now filed against Mr. David-Pitts will serve as a warning that crimes of violence will not be tolerated in Seattle," Diaz said in a statement.
On Thursday a spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor's Office said the Feds also plan to book one protester on suspicion of breaking windows at the 15th Ave Key Bank on Wednesday. “Police also told us [the suspect] had a Molotov cocktail in his backpack," the spokesperson said.
Police arrested one other person for the action on 15th, and, according to Capitol Hill Seattle, police confirmed twelve arrests at the vigil for Summer Taylor outside the Washington State Patrol office in the Roanoke area.
Last month, the Feds charged Isaiah Thomas Willoughby for arson after security footage showed a man starting a fire near the precinct, which was quickly extinguished by nearby CHOP protesters. In June, federal prosecutors charged Margaret Channon for setting five cop cars on fire downtown, and also Devinare Parker for possessing an "improvised firearm capable of firing shotgun shells."