Time for jail? Judge says media need to turn over unpublished photos, videos that may expose rioters

KING COUNTY, WA – On July 23rd, King County Superior Court Judge Nelson Lee ruled that media outlets need to hand over any unpublished photos or videos to police with regard to the May 30th riot that rocked Seattle. Thus, affording police the ability to track down even more bad actors and criminals from the violent protest.

The judge found that the subpoena issued by the Seattle Police Department is completely justified and enforceable, as it serves the departments ability to further investigate the theft of police guns and burning of SPD vehicles that transpired on May 30th.

Police are still seeking the suspects responsible for damaging six vehicles, breaking police car windows, and also stealing the likes of equipment from the interiors which included police weapons. The subpoena is specifically trying to hone-in on a four-block area during a 90-minute window during May 30th.

While Judge Lee stated that police can use the footage to secure evidence against those responsible for the arson, vandalism and theft – police may not use the footage to pursue crimes outside of that scope reportedly.

The news outlets subpoenaed were the Seattle Times, and also local tv stations KIRO7, KING5, KOMO4 and KCPQ13. Michele Matass Flores, the executive director of the Seattle Times, claimed that this subpoena put’s their “staff’s physical safety at risk,” as well as their own “independence.”

Flores claimed that the media’s job is to hold the government accountable to the public and not the other way around:

“The media exist in large part to hold governments, including law enforcement agencies, accountable to the public. We don’t work in concert with government, and it’s important to our credibility and effectiveness to retain our independence from those we cover.”

What Flores fails to realize is that adhering to a subpoena isn’t working “in concert” with the government – as that notion implies that there’s a mutually agreed upon collaboration. A subpoena is order compelling someone to share potential evidence – being compelled and working in concert are two totally different things.

However, the media habitually does work in concert with the government – especially when they publish stories about wanted criminals and suspects. The purpose of the media has always been to report on events, instances, and the ilk; but not to hold any one particular aspect of society accountable to the other.

It is unclear as to whether the media outlets will challenge the ruling reached on July 23rd at this time.

While the subpoena in question relates specifically to May 30th, the city of Seattle has been a bit of a hot mess thereafter with regard to the riots the city have dealt with. 

On the evening of July 22nd, a loud, destructive, roving band of about 150 people broke into several Seattle businesses where they destroyed property and set fire to merchandise.

According to KOMO News, this group of 150 people first gathered at Cal Anderson Park around 9 p.m. Once all together, they started to roam around the Capitol Hill neighborhood, doing massive amounts of property damage, looting, shooting fireworks, and committing arson.

Allegedly, individuals from the group broke the windows of a business in the 1400 block of East Olive Way and then started a fire inside the two story commercial building. According to the police, Seattle firefighters extinguished the blaze and no injuries were reported.

After that, the loud, destructive group made its way to the 1500 block of 11th Avenue, breaking more windows of various businesses along the way. Once the windows were broken, some people in the group stole merchandise, put it in the middle of the street, and then lit it on fire.

One local business, Likelihood Seattle, a store that sells men’s and women’s shoes, said their store was hit by the group. Their store is located at 1101 East Union Street. 

The group then made its way to Broadway and Madison Street where different individuals used baseball bats and pipes to break all the windows at a Whole Foods store.  They threw fireworks into the store and then began looting.

After that, the loud, destructive group headed to the area of Summit and Madison where they chose to damage property at two different banks. After that, the group left the banks and made their way back to Cal Anderson Park where they then dispersed. 

According to reports, no arrests were made and no officers were injured.

In addition to Wednesday night’s destructive protests in Seattle, another protest on Sunday night turned destructive.  During this protest, 12 officers were injured, businesses and police precincts were damaged, and two arrests were made.

According to Kiro7 News, the protest began around 10:30 a.m. as a peaceful demonstration calling for the abolition of federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was taking place at Westlake Park.

Around 1:30 p.m., approximately three hours into the peaceful protest, police said that a secondary group of demonstrators seen carrying baseball bats joined in the protest. According to police, the group marched on 5th Avenue toward the Seattle Police Department (SPD) headquarters and damaged businesses along the way.

According to reports, the group damaged the old federal courthouse building, graffitied the SPD headquarters, and graffitied and broke windows at the Municipal Court building. After that, the destructive group went north on 3rd Avenue and continued to damage businesses along that route. 

In a news conference, Sgt. Lauren Truscott said:

“Individuals in the group appeared to target Starbucks and Amazon.”

Police then said that the group made their way to the department’s West Precinct where they confronted officers outside of the building. Truscott said that members of the group lit mortar-type fireworks and threw them at officers from a close range, injuring 12 officers.

Truscott said that one of the injured officers was taken to Haborview Medical Center after a fragmentation entered his throat and neck area. According to reports, the other injured officers were assessed and treated at the precinct.

Truscott said that officers used blast balls and pepper spray against the protestors, but no tear gas was used and two people were arrested. The group then left the West Precinct and headed toward the East Precinct, again continuing to damage businesses along the way.

At the East Precinct, police said that the group broke windows and threw some type of pyrotechnic item into the lobby of the precinct, which started a small fire. The fire was put out and no injuries were reported. 

Truscott said police received reports of looting from some of the damaged stores and she said in a statement:

“The group appeared to be well organized and well-orchestrated and acted in a joint effort to target specific businesses and government buildings.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is conducting follow-up investigations related to the arson and fireworks that were present at both of these destructive protests. Detectives with SPD will be investigating the reported property damage and looting incidents. 

SPD requests that anyone with any information related to these incidents to contact them.


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Author: Gregory Hoyt

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