Calls for special counsel to investigate federal provocation
SEATTLE—In a letter delivered to Washington state’s Congressional delegation today, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County today alleged that federal law enforcement provided disinformation to local officials during summer protests to obscure a federal role in stoking unrest.
The letter reads in part, “Recently, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County was alerted by a state lawmaker to a federal investigation into the conduct of Agents within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the role they played in the events in Seattle over the Summer of 2020, including whether any FBI personnel intentionally provided local law enforcement with inaccurate intelligence about ‘outside actors’ coming into the state of Washington to incite violence during local protests, in support of white nationalist terrorists and in support of the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Based on additional conversations with lawmakers, executives, and attorneys in government roles, we believe this disinformation was provided to obscure destructive and provocative participation in protests by federal law enforcement.”
In the letter, BLMSKC calls on the Congressional delegation to demand the appointment of a special counsel to investigate independently any and all criminal acts committed by law enforcement during the summer protests in Seattle and other communities, including Washington, D.C.
The full text of the letter follows.
Dear U.S. Senator Patty Murray
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
Congressman Adam Smith
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal:
This past week the nation and indeed the world witnessed the living impact of America’s greatest national shame: white supremacy.
It is vital to the future of our democracy that the nation’s leaders speak now with a clear and uncompromised voice in addressing the factors that contributed to the assault on the United States Capitol by white nationalist terrorists, incited by their self-declared leader: President Donald Trump.
This past summer the nation finally awoke to a reality that Black and people of color have been living with for generations. Racism is not America’s past. It is our present. It is insidious, and it is deadly.
America’s law enforcement paradigms, criminal justice system, popular ideas of who is a “criminal,” and ideas of what is “reasonable” police behavior are all directly derived from centuries of practices used to police and oppress people during the eras of slavery and Jim Crow. It’s not surprising, therefore, that those who work in law enforcement often show an affinity towards racist political leaders, such as President Trump.
While many were stunned to see Capitol Police remove barricades and stand aside as domestic terrorists overran the building, those of us living in Black skin, and fighting for Black Lives were not. While many were stunned to see the blatant double-standard with which American law enforcement treats peaceful BLM protesters and violent, white nationalist terrorists, we were not.
What happened at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 was yet another attack in a string of attacks that have taken place across the country this past year, including in Seattle and across the state of Washington, as protesters took to the streets to demand the protection and liberation of Black Lives, and police accountability, only to be violently targeted by law enforcement.
In the summer of 2020, officers of the Seattle Police department defied their department command, including Chief Carmen Best, ignored imminent threats to the city and peaceful protesters, and independently coordinated the abandonment of the East Precinct.
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County has called on the Office of the Inspector General to investigate. The OIG Judge has failed to do so. BLMSKC met with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes to demand his office investigate. He refused. The Office of Police Accountability not only isn’t investigating, but is an intentionally complicit barrier to authentic accountability.
Recently, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County was alerted by a state lawmaker to a federal investigation into the conduct of Agents within the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the role they played in the events in Seattle over the Summer of 2020, including whether any FBI personnel intentionally provided local law enforcement with inaccurate intelligence about “outside actors” coming into the state of Washington to incite violence during local protests, in support of white nationalist terrorists and in support of the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Based on additional conversations with lawmakers, executives, and attorneys in government roles, we believe this disinformation was provided to obscure destructive and provocative participation in protests by federal law enforcement.
It defies logic and common sense that federal law enforcement claims they were unaware of the planned attack on the nation’s Capital, though the planning and promotion was not just public, it was promoted.
It is insulting to the intelligence of reasonable people around the world that the FBI provided intelligence to D.C. and other government law enforcement agencies that assured those agencies the events on January 6, 2021 would be nothing more than a peaceful picnic on the Capitol lawn. These threats have been publicly known for months.
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County calls on you individually and collectively to work with your colleagues to demand the appoint of a special counsel with the independence to investigate and prosecute any and all criminal acts committed by any member of federal law enforcement and specialized law enforcement in its communications about known white nationalist terrorists and any openly-planned and known white nationalist terrorist attacks across the United States, including the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., and communities all across the United States, including Olympia, Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon.
Capitol Police were complicit in white supremacy and the Department of Justice and FBI failed to give accurate intelligence ahead of the insurrection, just as they are alleged to have done during the summer of 2020 to local law enforcement.
This last week, on Friday, January 9, 2021, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) announced that it is investigating two of its officers who were in Washington, D.C., amid the Capitol riot on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. Police Chief Adrian Diaz said the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) will investigate whether any SPD policies were violated and if any potentially illegal activities need to be referred for criminal investigation.” No doubt that in the coming weeks and months, communities across the nation will learn some of their local law enforcement attended as well.
The appointment of an outside Special Counsel is plainly warranted. An independent investigation by a prosecutor—not subject to dismissal by any political appointee or by any compromised or complicit elected official—is the only way to ensure that all those who participated in this deadly attack on our democracy are held accountable.
No person is above the law, including and especially American law enforcement.
As you know, the Justice Department’s own regulations require the appointment of an outside special counsel when a three-prong test is met. 28 C.F.R. § 600.1. First, a “criminal investigation of a person or matter [must be] warranted.” Second, the “investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department.” And, third, “under the circumstances it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter.”
Once this three-prong test is met, under the federal regulations that govern the Justice Department, a special counsel must be selected from outside the government who has the authority to secure necessary resources for investigation and prosecution and who would have full investigatory and prosecutorial powers. 28 C.F.R. §§ 600.3-.6.
The shocking events of the past few days make it clear that neither the administration, nor the Capitol Police, nor the Federal Bureau of Investigation can be entrusted with investigating itself, especially when the instructions to violate our federal criminal laws came from the president himself. The president has also repeatedly undermined prior investigations into these groups due to his blatantly corrupt motivation to protect anyone who he thinks is his political ally.
The FBI has sent a memo to law enforcement agencies across the country warning about possible armed protests at all 50 state capitols starting Saturday and saying an armed group has threatened to travel to Washington, D.C., the same day to stage an uprising if Congress removes President Donald Trump from office, according to a senior law enforcement official.
The issues outlined above are gravely concerning to Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County, to the nation, and to the world. This investigation is essential for transparency, accountability, and understanding of law enforcement conduct in the United States.
We are calling on you now.
We request an immediate meeting with your office to further discuss and address these urgent issues.
About Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County is a social advocacy organization fighting for the protection and liberation of Black Life through advocacy and direct action. BLM Seattle centers leadership on Black femmes, women, queer and trans people organizing and taking direct action to dismantle anti-black systems and policies of oppression.