The parody video includes footage of Seattle police deploying flash bangs and pepper spray against crowds of protesters.
The depiction of police in the Seattle Police Department’s lip-sync video didn’t feel right to Seattle music producer Spekulation (aka Matt “Spek” Watson), so he created a parody of it, using footage of the city’s police force responding to downtown protests.
Watson’s video, posted to his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, jumps between clips from the department’s video and footage of Seattle police officers in riot gear during May Day protests and an anti-fascist demonstration last year. In Watson’s video, police use flash bangs and pepper spray on crowds and push protesters back with bikes — while Macklemore’s “Downtown” plays in the background.
“This one just seemed like very low-hanging fruit,” Watson said. “I’ve been to so many protests downtown and have seen how Seattle police interact with protesters down there.”
Seattle Police Sgt. Sean Whitcomb said Watson’s video was clever, but stands by the lip-sync video as a community policing effort that he said many residents, visitors and businesses were excited to be a part of. He added that Macklemore signed off on the use of his song.
Whitcomb said satire and police accountability are important, but that neither should take away from the project’s authenticity.
“The project is commonly known as the lip-sync video, but for us it’s so much more than that,” Whitcomb said. “It was a sincere way for us to connect with the people who live here.”
Watson disagreed, calling the video “over the top.” He’s critical of the department’s claim that the video is a community-policing effort, which he said should entail an effort by police to be deeply involved in and accountable to the communities they serve.
“I understand the reaction to people having fun and that’s all fine and good,” he said. “But that doesn’t solve any of the systemic problems.”
Watson, a former rapper, now spends his time producing music for local artists, editing video and raising his child. Watson also produced a parody of an Amazon recruitment video in 2015.
The police department has been criticized by others on social media for its video. While many readers who commented on The Seattle Times’ social media posts about the video expressed excitement, some brought up allegations of use of excessive force and biased policing by officers that led to court-ordered reforms in 2012.
The department was found to be in compliance with reforms in January and has been in a two-year review period since. Whitcomb said the department has been transparent with the public about the July 2012 consent decree with the U.S. Justice Department.