Snohomish police chief reassigned over handling of Antifa rumors and armed response

SNOHOMISH, Wash. -- Snohomish Police Chief Keith Rogers has been reassigned after facing criticism over how he handled rumors of Antifa activists planning to riot -- and his lack of concern over people who responded by lining the streets with semi-automatic weapons and clashing with peaceful protesters.

Capt. Robert Palmer with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office will replace him as interim chief until a permanent replacement is hired, the city announced. The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office has partnered with the city of Snohomish to provide law enforcement services since 2012. 

Last week, dozens of people lined the streets of downtown Snohomish in response to rumors that activists were going to loot and damage storefronts. Many of the people who lined the streets of the small town were armed with semi-automatic weapons, while some of them were drinking and displaying a Confederate flag, according to The Seattle Times.

The Times reports that not all the people who were armed were local, and some had ties to right-wing groups. Some of them clashed with protesters who were rallying against police brutality and racial disparities in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

One of the men was caught on video punching a teenager who was marching.

Rogers, now the former chief, reportedly called the events "festive" at a four-hour town meeting where city leaders faced harsh criticism from residents, teachers and others concerned about what unfolded in their town, according to The Everett Herald.

He's been reassigned to a new position with the sheriff's office.

“I am confident that Captain Palmer will serve and lead the residents of the City of Snohomish through this difficult time in our history,” Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney said in a prepared statement. “Chief Rogers has been a tremendous leader while serving the community in Snohomish for more than three years. At this moment in time, I believe reassigning Lt. Rogers is in the best interest of our community and our agency."