Target: Kathleen O’Toole, Seattle Chief of Police
Goal: Condemn police brutality at peaceful protest
At a recent peaceful protest for the murders of two unarmed black men by white police officers, police used force and pepper spray to disperse crowds and restrict first amendment rights. The protesters marched around Seattle for five hours, dogged by police at every turn. The protesters remained peaceful yet police still used pepper spray several times because protesters were “too close” to the police or “too slow” to comply. They were then told to disperse despite the peaceful nature of the protest and the fact that it was on a public sidewalk. The Seattle Police Department must be condemned for its excessive use of force and for effectively violating the first amendment rights of nearly 300 people.
The protests over the deaths of Michael Brown, Jr. and Eric Garner have been spreading across the nation since two pivotal decisions by grand juries not to indict the white police officers that murdered them. In the Michael Brown, Jr. case, the claim of the jury was that the evidence was not consistent enough to convict ex-police officer Darren Wilson. In the second case, however, there was video footage of police using an unsanctioned choke hold while Eric Garner gasped and begged them to stop. Despite this video evidence, the officers in question were still not indicted for the crime.
This must stop. These protests are just in cause and started because of the heavy handed, and often fatal, techniques used by police to deal with unarmed civilians. Now, at protests over this misconduct and murder, police are using the same brutal tactics to silence those they have angered. Please sign below to condemn the Seattle Police Department for using force to violate the first amendment rights of peaceful protesters.
Dear Police Chief O’Toole,
As I am sure that you are aware, the protests surrounding the murders of Michael Brown, Jr. and Eric Garner, and the lack of accountability for those who killed them, are spreading. There are demonstrations taking place in your own city in an attempt to change a system in which police can choke or shoot an unarmed black man to death without consequence. At one of these protests in downtown Seattle, your officers used pepper spray on peaceful protesters and forced them to disperse regardless of the fact that they were gathered on a public sidewalk and completely non-violent.
This is not only police brutality, but also a violation of these peoples’ first amendment right to free speech. I write to condemn the actions of your department and suggest that in the future your officers treat protesters with the respect that they deserve. These protests began because of how police treat civilians on a daily basis and will continue until this kind of conduct ends.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Fibonacci Blue via Wikimedia Commons