The Washington State Patrol this week publicly apologized after Burien Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx’ video showing a trooper imploring his riot-geared staff to “Don’t kill them, but hit them hard” went viral.
The video was filmed by Marx from her Capitol Hill office in Seattle on Tuesday night, June 2, 2020.
Marx says that on Tuesday she went in to her Seattle office to wait for a UPS shipment to arrive. She serves as the Executive Director of Seattle Out & Proud (Seattle Pride), and her office overlooks E. Pine Street between 11th and 12th Avenues, directly across E. Pine from the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct.
Police (local, state and National Guard) had barricaded that section of the street to use as their staging area.
“While I was waiting for UPS, the protests started up,” Marx told The B-Town Blog. “Everything seemed to be peaceful, with chants, cheers, shouts, songs, drumming, etc. I heard no calls to disperse, no warnings, no statement of intent to deploy tear gas, pepper spray, or anything else.”
At 7:40 p.m., Marx heard someone saying “Hit ’em hard, hit ’em hard” from directly beneath her office window. That’s when she grabbed her cell phone and recorded the video that has now gone viral on Twitter.
In Marx’ video – which has had 1.4 million views and has been retweeted 27,000 times – the trooper can be seen walking through a line of officers in riot gear, motioning with his hands/fists while giving them the “Don’t kill them, but hit them hard” instructions:
"DON'T KILL THEM, BUT HIT THEM HARD."
— 🏳️🌈☂️Krystal Marx☂️ 🏳️🌈 (@Bishop_Krystal) June 3, 2020
“I watched it once before posting, to make sure I accurately captured the officer’s statements. He was clearly heard saying ‘Hit ’em hard. Don’t kill them, but hit them hard.'”
“I was first terrified for the protesters who, again, had been observed to be peaceful this entire time…and then extremely angry. My hands were shaking, and I remember thinking, ‘Why do you need to remind your officers not to kill?'”
In an apology released Wednesday, the Washington State Patrol said:
“The Washington State Patrol (WSP) offers our heartfelt condolences and organizational humility in regard to the tragic and wholly unnecessary death of Mr. George Floyd. An act of cruel disregard took his life, injured his family, and harmed this country. His death also laid bare long simmering challenges between law enforcement and communities of color. Our hope is that we can find ways to improve services and relationships and the lessons of Mr. Floyd’s tragic death are never lost.
“With that said, WSP must offer a heartfelt apology for verbiage used by one of our troopers responding to a protest in Seattle. A video posted on social media shows one of our rapid deployment team leaders telling the men and women under his command not to “kill ‘em” but “hit ‘em hard.” We apologize for the poor choice of words by one our team leaders preparing his troopers for a possibly confrontational situation and recognize the hurt and confusion it has caused.
“Make no mistake, we share in the appropriate outrage people are feeling and expressing about what happened in Minneapolis. We are aware of the tensions between law enforcement and communities of color, and recognize the importance of our words and actions. Part of our job is to respect, honor, and defend the rights of free speech and peaceful protest every single day. We also have a unique role in responding to crisis situations where some people have or may act unlawfully and take advantage of any righteous outrage. Physical force is not our primary or desired tactic when crowd response needs arise. Any use of force is calibrated with an assessment of what is necessary, reasonable, and proportionate to the given situation.
“The team leader was preparing his team for a specific incident with protestors that were behaving aggressively, unsafely, and unlawfully. A “push” maneuver was deemed necessary where we actively push aggressive, non-compliant, and threatening protestors away from a designated area. That type of physicality takes courage and focus as well as balance and restraint. The team leader’s motivation was to guide his team through a safe and effective maneuver. Unfortunately, that was eclipsed by his word choice.
“Both WSP and the trooper are accountable for what we say and do and the matter is being investigated. We hope the public will accept our apology and we ask for grace and understanding as our troopers are serving in tense situations of danger and difficulty. They are doing so with courage, commitment and compassion, but not always with perfection.
“We apologize if this regrettable moment added in any way to the strain felt by those we are serving in these difficult times. We will continue to faithfully serve the public and always aspire to be worthy of their trust in all we do and say.”
— WA State Patrol (@wastatepatrol) June 4, 2020
Here’s some other media coverage Marx got over her viral Tweet: