Many thanks to those of you who came to our meeting with Seattle Police Chief O’Toole this evening with the intention of having a civil conversation and dialog with her. We know that many of you have significant concerns and important issues that you wanted to bring to her attention. Many of us were looking forward to this opportunity to hear what she had to say about issues that are significant to West Seattle and relevant to our lives and community.
As you may know by now, our community conversation with Police Chief O’Toole was disrupted by people who have a different agenda and who used this West Seattle meeting as a means to gain publicity for their own concerns or efforts.
We were happy to see so many West Seattle folks push back when the disruptions first began, as it seemed to be an organized (or maybe anarchists use some other term since presumably organization is bad?) effort to bring up issues of police brutality and racial inequality, rather than anything to do with West Seattle.
We cut the meeting short since we were in a public forum in which we couldn’t eject the disruptors, the disruptors knew that, SPD knew that, we learned that shortly before the meeting began. The rest of you didn’t necessarily know that, so in many eyes this meeting seemed to end very awkwardly and abruptly.
We’ve sorry that it played out this way, but it appeared that they were going to continue to use this opportunity to air their own frustrations. They obviously had no respect for us (meeting co-organizers, SPD, or members of our community) who were telling them to take their turn or follow the process.
We don’t generally assume “ill-intentions”, but as we left the meeting we did notice local TV stations were interviewing the individuals who had disrupted the meeting – who had coincidentally thought to bring signs.
So, if you were at all impacted by what happened tonight – either in person or in reading about what happened – please weigh in on the discussions that are playing out in the media. Those who disrupted the meeting were also video taping it and photographing it, presumably to leverage it in the future.
Do their concerns outweigh yours? Do they outweigh ours? If you don’t think so, don’t let the disruptors and randomizers from outside of our community be the only ones to tell their side of it! Just because they chose to shout, and we did not, does not make them right!
Note that we do plan to invite the Chief back to West Seattle – soon – and will make sure that the meeting takes place at a venue in which we can keep order. We don’t want a closed meeting, but rather a meeting in which people behave civilly or can be ejected.
We were told that we couldn’t force the protesters to leave, because the meeting was held inside the precinct; we won’t have that constraint at another venue.