The police hoped to use the ruse to scare protesters away from the CHAZ
The revelation was part of a blistering report released by Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability, first reported by The Seattle Times, on Wednesday and expands on the “misinformation effort” police undertook shortly after they left the “autonomous zone” established by protesters for a short time in the city.
OPA Director Andrew Myerberg said the false sightings “improperly added fuel to the fire” of the already tense protests in the city.
“The use of the Proud Boys when it was known that the transmissions would be monitored took a volatile situation and made it even more so,” he wrote in the report.
According to the report, officers made false remarks over their radios for a two-hour period on the night of 8 Junie, knowing that their police channels were being monitored by protesters.
The misinformation included comments like “it looks like a few of them might be open carrying” and that police had heard from the Proud Boys that they were “looking for somewhere else for confrontation”.
The misinformation operation was reportedly ordered by then-precinct captain Bryan Grenon, who said he was looking for “an innocent way to just throw out some distraction”, claiming that the police were low on resources and facing pressure from the protesters. The then-Chief Carmen Best reportedly was unaware of the misinformation scheme.
Mr Grenon said he hoped that the false information would drive protesters away to other areas.
Rather than driving the protesters away, it caused them to become hyper-vigilant and arm themselves, turning a tense situation into a dangerous one. The report includes the account of an unnamed journalist who was covering the autonomous zone that night and recalled that after the reports began circulating, protesters who had guns went to get theirs to prepare for any potential Proud Boy-led attacks.
“It seemed like everyone in the crowd who owned guns went to get theirs and the event went from being peaceful to something entirely different,” the journalist said in the report.
Mr Grenon said it was “never my intent to cause alarm” and that “hindsight is 20/20”.
The precinct captain eventually ascended to assistant chief, but has since left the department, as have the two officers who participated in the ruse.