Seattle police exchanged detailed fake radio transmissions about a nonexistent group of menacing right-wing extremists at a crucial moment during the 2020 racial justice protests, an investigation by the city’s police watchdog group shows, the Associated Press reports. Radio chatter about members of the Proud Boys marching around downtown Seattle, some possibly carrying guns and then heading to confront protesters on the city's Capitol Hill, was an improper “ruse”, or dishonest ploy, that exacerbated a volatile situation, said a report released Wednesday by the city’s Office of Police Accountability (OPA). The ruse happened June 8, 2020, hours after the police department abandoned its East Precinct and as protesters were starting to set up the temporary zone that was later called the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).
Though some people in the zone may have brought guns regardless of the chatter, the ruse “improperly added fuel to the fire,” said Andrew Myerberg, director of the Office of Police Accountability. The radio chatter was part of an approved “misinformation effort” that police leaders knew about. The episode now is under review by police department leaders for disciplinary rulings. It appears unlikely that anyone will face punitive actions. The two employees who ordered and supervised the misinformation effort have left the department. The Proud Boys ruse was deployed at an extremely tense moment. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police in late May had sparked large-scale protests in Seattle, with the police barricading streets around the East Precinct and deploying tear gas.