Police chief ousted for backing ‘gun-toting’ vigilantes who defended small town from alleged ‘Antifa threat’
Snohomish Police Chief Keith Rogers was ousted amid a slew of complaints after his vocal support for a gathering of several hundred “armed vigilantes” who converged on the town of 9,000 inhabitants on May 31.
Rogers was criticized for referring to the gathering as a “festive night of tailgating and celebratory pleasantries.” Despite drawing the ire of many online activists, the top cop received the support of Snohomish Mayor John Kartak.
“On Sunday, May 31, we received notification that opportunistic punks had chosen Snohomish as a target to deploy mayhem and violence,” the mayor wrote in an online statement.
Over 500 people came together, of all races, ethnicity, ages, and genders, to deter the violence and vandalism that had been threatened to occur to our small businesses.
The outgoing chief will remain a lieutenant and will be reassigned, and the local department announced that Captain Robert Palmer will take over.
During a town council meeting, the mayor himself was criticized for not directly addressing the “coded white power symbols” that some of the so-called vigilantes brought with them, and was accused of being “tone deaf” and of “whitewashing” the situation.
Despite this rebuke, Mayor Kartak has continued to defend the police, saying in a video that he didn’t “see any racism” nor “any disgusting confederate flags.” These comments drew yet more criticism from the seething online mob.
“I just watched Mayor Kartak’s video driving through downtown Snohomish. And it was so hard to listen to. He sounds ignorant, tone deaf, and honestly guilty. He even had the audacity to say ‘I don’t see any racism,’” wrote one irate user.
Despite the backlash, however, many residents stood by the outgoing sheriff and the incumbent mayor. “Snohomish police, the Sheriff’s office and Mayor Kartak did their job and defended the rights of the people to their first, second and fourth amendment protections. They did so admirably,” wrote one resident.
Some proponents of the vigilantes’ actions and the officials’ support cited a recent incident in which an armed cigar shop owner was forced to defend his store from looters just 30 minutes from Snohomish, in the Washtington state town of Bellevue.
The Snohomish incident comes amid widespread protests, riots and looting across the US in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Many activists have called for police departments to be defunded or disbanded and for a new form of law enforcement to be implemented across the country.
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