A protest in Olympia, Washington quickly became a riot when several groups clashed and a shooting occurred early Saturday afternoon.
Olympia police reported the situation as “fluid” as people moved from downtown into government buildings in the Washington state capitol, KATU 2 News reported.
The conflict began when a rally of people supporting President Donald Trump was intercepted by counter-protesters. About 200 people engaged in a street brawl, using bats, bottles, rocks, chemical sprays, and guns. Police tried to disperse the group but were unable to stop the collision before shots were fired, KOMO News reports.
Just north of Olympia, Seattle police officers are no longer allowed to use typical police tactics in crowd-control efforts. In June, Black Lives Matter-King County and six plaintiffs requested a restraining order against the Seattle Police Department, claiming police brutality, the Center Square reports. The court sided with BLM, banning police use of tear gas and impact munitions.
“SPD and the city were responsible for indiscriminately deploying four weapons against protesters without merit: pepper spray, pepper balls, blast balls and paintballs,” the court decision stated. These police tactics are now considered in violation of the restraining order issued by the judge.
Activists in the state of Washington are pushing for further constraints. Restrictions include elimination of choke holds, creation of a civil accountability board and a statewide investigative agency, and increasing the state government’s ability to decertify local police officers for misconduct, The Daily Chronicle reports.
Barely 200 miles away from Seattle, the city of Portland has been dealing with a sharp rise in violent crime and its own “autonomous zone.” The police attempted to remove squatters after several months and multiple eviction notices. The response to the police effort was the arrival of 100 militants dressed in body armor and knee pads, Budget and Tax News reports.
Although police officers were violently attacked, the Multnomah County District Attorney immediately dropped charges against those arrested, Andy Ngo and Mia Cathell report at The Post Millennial.
Portland police are dealing with the highest level of violence in nearly ten years. As of the beginning of October, the city reported 39 homicides and 595 shootings. In 2019, there were 300 shootings in the same time frame, The Oregonian reports.
Most of the shootings have been attributed to ongoing gang wars. Portland police say the elimination of the Gun Violence Reduction Team is to blame for at least some of the increase in violence. All 34 police officers specializing in gangs have been reassigned to other duties.
Minneapolis, another city experiencing a crime surge, voted to reduce its police budget by $8 million for 2021. Funds will be shifted to mental health and violence prevention programs, Fox News reports. An attempt in the city council to eliminate the police force failed. The budget cut will reduce police services and protection.
“The City Council is decimating the police department,” Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Krol told FOX News. “The number of working officers is the lowest it’s been in 50 years. Murders, shootings, and other violent crimes are approaching record levels. Our officers are severely overworked, understaffed, and cannot keep the public safe with these cuts.”
In Minneapolis, more than 500 people have been shot so far this year, twice as many as in 2019. Murders are up by more than 50 percent. There have been nearly 5,000 violent crimes reported in the city this year, the most in five years.
Cities reducing police budgets for fiscal year 2021 should expect crime rates to continue to explode and the public to be at increasing risk, says retired police sergeant John Bode.
“I don’t know how on Earth a citizen would feel safe in their home,” Bode told Budget and Tax News. “What, who will stop this evil if the blue line fails?”