• Washington police say George Floyd protests were used as a cover by looters
  • “Faux protesters” used tactics police have “never seen before”
  • Officials in Colorado, California, and Missouri have also said criminal elements “hijacked” peaceful protests

Police in Washington state believe that peaceful protests about the death of George Floyd were used as a cover by criminal elements to ransack shops, causing millions of dollars in protests.

Bellevue, Washington police chief Steve Mylett said “faux protesters” dressed in black hoodies, gloves and masks suddenly gathered at a major intersection in Seattle and then started looting.

“It was a tsunami of people, and they just started running,” Mylett told USA Today. A small crowd of 40 quickly grew from 40 to more than a thousand after two men were seen using their cellphones.

Mylett also said that he did not hear the people gathered chant Floyd’s name and “police reform” before they scattered throughout the city.

“They used tactics we’ve never seen before,” he added. “It’s so unfortunate that peaceful protests got hijacked by criminal networks using them for cover. How do you ignore that this tactic was being used from coast to coast, north to south?”

Officials in Colorado also believe that peaceful protests in Denver were “hijacked by criminal elements, who have turned these protests into violent riots.”

United States Attorney Jason Dunn said in a statement that prosecutors from his office will ensure that violators identified by law enforcement agencies will be held accountable to federal law.

“While we can and should peacefully advocate for our beliefs, no one may incite a riot, start a fire, or injure other people in the process,” Dunn said in the statement.

Dunn also said that a Joint Terrorism Task Force from the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been deployed to Denver and is working with his office.

Police across the U.S. say they have seen unusual activity in how crowds seemingly gather and evaporate like a flash mob, using protests as a cover to ransack high-end shops.

Jennifer Tejada, police chief in Emeryville, California, told USA Today that the looters generally targeted stores with expensive merchandise and appear coordinated.”

“They have scouts. They have caravans of cars,” Tejada said. “We had upwards of 1,000 people doing that.”

Officials across the country have already denounced the looting. In Missouri, where looting also occurred during protests over the death of Floyd, Governor Mike Parson said “criminals” and “thugs” were hijacking peaceful protests in Kansas City and St. Louis.

“We have to change our ways of this society,” Parson said. “George Floyd should have never died the way he died. He should not.”