Seattle Police are responding to disturbing accusations that one of their own Maced a child
Throughout the weekend, protests over the death of George Floyd gripped the U.S. and other nations across the globe. And, with them, a flood of footage from the ground as people demanded an end to police brutality against the black community and an actualized plan for the stop of systemic racism. However, numerous reports claim that police and other authorities have responded to some of the peaceful protests with yet more violence.
One such claim has gone viral, alleging that Seattle police sprayed Mace in the face of a young girl. Now, per the Seattle Police Department, they are launching an investigation into the incident.
“All uses of force by SPD officers will be investigated accordingly, and officers will be held accountable for inappropriate uses of force,” mayor’s office spokesperson Kelsey Nyland underscored in a statement to The Stranger. “Retaining and building community trust that SPD and partners have worked tirelessly to improve is absolutely paramount.”
Videos and photos from the incident in question show adult protestors and bystanders trying to comfort and calm the child, who is clearly in pain. Ultimately, while one helps hold the child, another pours milk over their face (milk’s alkalinity helps neutralize the acidity of pepper sprays like Mace).
According to Storyful, photographer Evan Hreha — who is responsible for filming the viral video — witnesses insisted that a cop sprayed the young girl with Mace.
Warning: This footage is extremely distressing and uncomfortable to watch.
As Hreha told Buzzfeed News, the protests during that time were primarily “peaceful” — including a reverend offering a “prayer for peace” just moments before the pepper-spraying began. Soon, though, a protestor pushing a sign seemed to set the police off, causing them to “really push forward aggressively.” Said Hreha, “The next thing you know, the little girl and others were running out screaming. They had been maced, and that’s when I started filming.”
In the viral clips of the incident, protestors can be seen in the background asking for the police officers’ badge numbers. Although Hreha says most of the cops there gave theirs willingly, the officer assumed to be the one who Maced the little girl would not. He also had his badge number taped over.
“When I went back over and started filming him, he was really stone-faced and smirking a little bit. People were asking why he did it,” Hreha elaborated. A tweet from activist Zellie Imani corroborates this, saying, “Seattle police maced a child. Then refused to give his badge number.
Nyland also revealed that the department has been informing people how to file an official complaint, saying, “The Seattle Police Department has received multiple reports regarding the use of mace by SPD officers during today’s demonstrations. Those who expressed concerns have been provided direction on how to file reports with the Office of Police Accountability.”
Neither the mayor’s office nor the Seattle Police Department has commented directly on the incident involving the young girl. Similarly, they have not identified the officer in question. However, they do seem to confirm the accusations in the mayor’s official statement.
“During the demonstrations last night, amidst property destruction and confrontations with officers, there were several arrests. In one arrest, which has received media attention, officers used force,” the statement cryptically reads.
It continues, “Under SPD’s policies relating to crowd management and review of force, any force that is used during the course of last night’s events will undergo a high level of scrutiny and review by the chain of command, SPD’s Force Review Board, the Office of Police Accountability, and the Office of the Inspector General.”