Breitbart reported that Seattle police officials announced Wednesday that a van was seized near a location scheduled to hold a protest in solidarity with the ongoing demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.
An investigation into ownership of the van and those reponsible for the weapons has been opened by the Seattle police, according to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.
Chief Best described the difficulties her department faced while trying to control a group of protestors that destroyed construction trailers located near the Youth Service Center with “incendiary devices”.
A van was reportedly following the group of protestors as they moved into the East Precinct. Chief Best stated that witnesses observed protestors “removing items and distributing them to people within the group.”
The van was allegedly distributing “baseball bats, pyrotechnic explosives, APR respirators, improvised shields, and face masks” to members of crowd as they moved from site to site, leaving destruction in their wake.
During the march, “an explosion blew an 8-inch hole into the wall of the East Precinct” Chief Best told reporters. She stated that discovering the vehicle after that explosion, in addition to the way the van was parked gave her explosives experts “a real fear that it would contain explosive devices that could detonate.”
Once the car was “impounded”, a search warrant was approved by a judge and Seattle detectives were allowed to do an investigative search of the car. According to Chief Best, the search resulted in the discovery of “one pyrotechnic explosives [sic], smoke bombs bundled together — and lit and unlit but able to cause large amounts of smoke that are caustic to humans — bear spray — using it on anything but bears is a federal offense — pepper spray, stun guns, [and] improvised spike strips,”
Chief Best reiterated that 59 members the Seattle Police Department have been injured during the riots while protecting the people and property of Seattle. She concluded with a reminder to reporters that “not everyone that comes to these protests is peaceful.”
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While Chief Best acknowledged that some protesters and protests have remained peaceful, she refused to ignore the reality of bad actors within the groups, stressing that “there’s a group of folks that are embedding themselves within these peaceful demonstrations.”
“Peaceful protesters do not show up with a van full of bear spray, stun guns, spike strips, and explosives,” Best said.
Best said the department is planning to follow up “aggressively” in the investigation and provide details as they come:
“Acts of destruction, violence and hateful speech, none of that gets us where we need to be, it’s not just a distraction, it undermines the central message and the actions we want to take as a city,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), who has accused federal officers of escalating violence “night after night after night,” stated at the press conference.
Durkan also expressed confidence in Chief Best but emphasized her fundamental belief in “reshaping the Police Department.” She emphasized that the city must “admit and apologize that our systems in our city and across this country were built on systemic racism.”
Seattle has been the site of violent protests connected to the Black Lives Matter movement, including the so-called “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP). The mayor defended the protest until protesters targeted her house; it was cleared shortly thereafter.
Last week, a new city council resolution went into effect that prevents police officers from using pepper spray to disperse riots. That, in turn, caused the police chief to warn residents it could not protect them.