Local activist Mohawk Kuzma said investigations by police have been biased and failed to seek input from demonstration organizers or protesters.
Dissatisfied with what he describes as a biased and less-than-robust investigation into the way Seattle police manage protests and demonstrations, local activist Mohawk Kuzma on Tuesday announced he was launching his own inquiry.
Kuzma said his “fair and unbiased” investigation will include information from protesters, citizens, police and others and will be completed at the beginning of 2017.
Kuzma, who has been an organizer of Black Lives Matter protests and a participant in Occupy Seattle and May Day demonstrations, said he was prompted by Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole’s decision to give a verbal reprimand, rather than a suspension, to an officer who pepper-sprayed a Seattle teacher last year.
The teacher, Jesse Hagopian, sued the city after he was pepper-sprayed during a demonstration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
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In July, O’Toole announced that an independent panel with representatives from the Center for Policing Equity at the University of California in Los Angeles and police experts would examine the department’s policies for crowd management and use of force.
Seattle police said Tuesday the panel’s investigation is still ongoing.
According to Kuzma, the independent panel did not seek input from organizers, protesters or key people involved in the demonstrations.
“The citizens of Seattle and protesters were upset and saw a lot of things that made them lose trust in the Seattle Police Department,” he said.
Kuzma is asking that anyone with video, written accounts, photographs, police reports or other information about how Seattle police act, or react, during demonstrations and protests, email the information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said police are aware of Kuzma’ s efforts and will cooperate as much as possible.