Protestors take over SPD drone meeting at Garfield Community Center

SPD’s public display of their Draganflyer X6 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (AKA “drone”) Thursday at Garfield Community Center was supposed to give people a chance to see the camera-toting remote-piloted helicopter in person and give residents the chance to ask questions about how it would be used.

However, a group of protestors had other ideas for the meeting, shouting down the officers with chants and disruption for much of the meeting time. Many people have concerns about increasing the police department’s surveillance tools, while others see it as the start of dystopian worlds depicted in novels like 1984.

One protestor took to Twitter, and the @SeattleDrone was tweeting sarcastically before the meeting had even ended:

SPD says the machine, which can only fly for about 15 minutes at a time, will give them new tools for gathering information during dangerous incidents. Mayor McGinn told residents at a town hall at Kawabe House recently that he sees the drones as “a low-cost alternative to having a helicopter” at the scene. He also said the drone would not be used until there is a public process to determine its use guidelines.

More details on the meeting from the Seattle Times:

It was hard to hear Thursday night what Assistant Chief Paul McDonagh was trying to say about how the Seattle Police Department hopes to use drones to save lives and increase public safety — what with the chanting of “no drones” and the loud cries of “murderer” and “shame” drowning him out.

The first community meeting seeking public opinion on the department’s plans to use unmanned aerial systems, or drones, for law enforcement was taken over by protesters who prevented McDonagh from talking for more than half of the two-hour meeting.

The meeting, held at the Garfield Community Center, was attended by about 100 people. A few sat quietly and tried to listen, a few wanted to see the drones for themselves, but the majority were there to challenge police powers.

UPDATE: Commenter Jerry Whiting posted a link to this video of the meeting in the comments of our previous post (protestors enter around the 11:00 mark):

21 thoughts on “Protestors take over SPD drone meeting at Garfield Community Center

  1. It blows my mind that there aren’t more cameras in the CD. We need to do like the english and just go CCTV on all criminal activity in our neighborhood. I could care less if the SPD watches me sunbathe naked in the middle of the winter.

  2. I agree completely. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’m bringing up a toddler in a neighborhood where there are people shot on a regular basis blocks away from our house, the majority of whom are never caught. Cameras or CCTV should have been here years ago. Its profoundly disappointing that probably it will take several more murders before people take this idea more seriously.

    As for the people who don’t want them… methinks they do protest too much.

  3. I just saw the video of the meeting. These young white kids do not live here or represent this neighborhood. They need to take the 48 bus back to the U and find a diffrent neighborhood to practice what they think they learned in their sociology classes. Why do the Police allow this disruption? Free speech is legal but this was harrasment and intimidation and I am sure there would be those there who would testify on court if they were removed forceably. Why do the Police also allow criminals to remain on our streets for decades. So are we a containment zone for psudo-anarchists, criminals and social service agencies? Time for a class action suite against the city.

  4. I was there, and what could have been a productive public meeting was turned into a carnival. Everyone there had valid concerns to discuss with the police, but very few had their voices heard thanks to the protesters desire to be the loudest ones in the room. We were all held hostage to the ravings of a loud and obnoxious few.

    I’m sure in their heads the protesters think they won a great victory last night. Instead, they silenced their fellow citizens, both directly by way of yelling at those with questions, and indirectly by way of shouting over questions and answers alike. They certainly made no friends last night, and served only to hurt our chances of making sure things like drones have proper policy and legislation in place to protect our rights.

    So guys: when you’re at home watching the recording you made of yourself calling the cops pigs, or asking them how many donuts they eat, or yelling obscenities in a community center with children, or shouting how unsafe you feel around police, realize this: you were the ones being aggressive and rude. You were the ones silencing your fellow citizens. You were the ones making people feel unsafe. You are your own enemies of progress.

  5. No surprise there. Every meeting I’ve been to in the CD turns into the same thing, the loud few drowning out everybody else and not allowing any positive, productive discussion to occur. It’s a shame and doesn’t do anything to further any improvements

  6. @madronagal I think your first problem is that you are trying to bring up a toddler in an area where people are shot on a regular basis.

  7. Are cameras on private property legal? I’d gladly put up a camera and turn over any tape to the SPD if they want to see it. That’s ‘block watch’.

  8. CDozer writes “@madronagal I think your first problem is that you are trying to bring up a toddler in an area where people are shot on a regular basis”. The problem is the crime, the criminals need to be removed not the toddler, Familys not criminals. you clear the criminals out. CDozer, to be blunt you have your head up your ass!

  9. I wonder why. I think a location like Miller or one that has tended not to have as many disrupted meetings might have been better at least for our neighborhood. This was a city wide presentation, correct.

  10. Good God. How would you like to live next door to that bellowing woman? She is in love with the sound of her own horrid voice. And she’s all OVER the place with her speaking (err, shouting) agenda. She might have focused on the drones, not rambled endlessly about everything under the sun. Oh wait, that’s what our protesters do now. Nevermind.

  11. Amen to Andrew. But you see, they don’t care what the neighbors who actually live here think. It’s all about being professionally counterculture, and shoving their random and ever-changing agendas down the throats of true stake holders. Eventually they’ll decide that the people of color are not grateful enough for the sacrifices the protester’s convince themselves they’re making, and go back to Poulsbo and wherever else they came from. Then it will be like it has been in the past, with non-residents remembering the times they slummed it in the CD, tried to help the oppressed (while actually massaging their own egos) and were unappreciated, so ran back home to suburbia.

  12. Isn’t the girl with the long, curly hair (22:48 in the video) the same one who was in the paper saying someone had “given” her and her group a key to a house they occupied? Looks like the same girl. And the man next to her…who pushing 30 is still flipping people off? I’m embarrassed for him. As for the guy holding the picture of John T. Williams, Mr. Williams’ family has spoken out repeatedly about feeling used and disrespected by professional protesters using their family member’s murder for their own political gains. As always, this group has no respect for anyone else’s right to speak or be heard. And screaming over everyone, disrespecting a murdered man, and acting like spoiled children just alienates everyone who hears them. The guy in the mask couldn’t be understood at all. Nice mask, but it makes you sound like you’re talking inside a toilet.

  13. Sorry, but good grief. I’m watching this video and cracking up. I love the idea of taking the drones to Laurelhurst and Broadmoor. Yeah, because so many people are shooting up those neighborhoods on a nightly basis. They’re talking about using the drones in high crime areas. High crime. Like where we live. Not Laurelhurst and Broadmoor, where someone was last murdered what, 30 years ago? Lastly, the white guy in the green jacket telling a neighbor to “do something about it” and telling the cops to get out their guns, and saying f you when neighbors try to speak, looks like an aging frat boy. Why doesn’t he go to Laurelhurst and let the COMMUNITY hear and be heard. Jesus H. What a creep and a bully.

  14. Tom Fucoloro, great example of objective and fair reporting here. Why didn’t you interview anybody? It really sounds shameful to hear that the protesters “shouted down the officers” and “disrupted” a legitimate public meeting. On top of that, these protesters’ concerns are based on a fictional novel that George Orwell wrote half a century ago. After you briefly inform us of this, you go on to write about the potential benefits of the new SPD drones. Is this really professional, objective journalism you’re offering us here, Mr. Fucoloro? I wouldn’t be surprised if the SPD is paying you to write these stories on this website. If not, then you should really consider registering for some basic news reporting courses in the journalism department of a university. People like me who went to school for journalism and worked at a real newspaper would appreciate it.

  15. These protestors are so out of touch with reality. The Mayor Mike McGinn is their golden boy and he’s in favor of the drones.

  16. Some one should tell smeefer about volunteers and how to show some thank for their hard work producing the CD news for free. Thanks Tom for all you do!

  17. @Tom – Funny you thought I was offering lessons.
    @JMan – The Mayor would be very far from being the “golden boy” of anyone protesting drones, seeing as he supports drones. Like many other right wing knuckleheads found on fox news, you’re lumping everyone who seems left of the spectrum into one category without engaging in careful analysis or even doing a 5 minute wikipedia search that might help clear your confusion when it comes to who would support and who would oppose a very controversial proposition of intensified police surveillance with “drones.”
    @Eyes – I’m familiar with “volunteers” and I’m also familiar with how Central District News, a for-profit corporation, earns income. You are correct that there are individuals reporting news through this website who are volunteering their time. However, the reporter of this particular story is not a volunteer and he does earn money writing and publishing news on this website, which he happens to own.