The police chief of Snohomish was replaced on Monday following a week of mounting tension over how he handled a rumored but unrealized threat that antifa activists planned to riot and damage storefronts in the community.
A divide in Snohomish, a city of 10,000 near the Cascade foothills, had come to light early last week as citizens armed with semi-automatic weapons and displaying a Confederate flag gathered in the city’s historic downtown.
Some clashed with protesters who have been holding nightly demonstrations against racial injustice and the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The armed demonstrators included members of right-wing groups, according to interviews with group members, and multiple witnesses said many people had been drinking while carrying weapons on May 31.
The next night, violence broke out when a man demonstrators believed was linked to the armed group was shown on video throwing punches and striking at least one teenager who had joined a protest against police misconduct, and another protester said he was pushed to the ground where two people then choked and hit him.
Keith Rogers, now the former police chief of Snohomish, faced steep criticism for not taking the armed crowd’s presence more seriously. At a recent Snohomish City Council meeting, he had described the evening as “festive.”