City Requests Streamlined Permit Process Be Used for Protests

In an effort to efficiently provide the right amount of public safety services at future demonstrations without compromising safety, the City of Seattle is requesting organizers of free speech marches and rallies use the Special Event permitting process to facilitate better communication between event organizers and police.

City leaders would like to invite a conversation on this subject because these services are expensive. The first batch of financial estimates directly related to the recent protests totals over $585,000 yet only covers dates through December 2.

There is no Special Event permit fee for constitutionally protected free speech events. The Special Event Permit Application form is online at Special Event Permit Applications should be submitted via email to or via fax to 206-684-7025. The Special Events Office is available to answer organizers’ questions via email or at 206-233-3948.

Providing public safety at large gatherings is a primary function at SPD. Police have provided these services to around 300 similar events this year alone. With a few exceptions, recent protests have occurred organically through word of mouth or social media. Only one of these events went through the permit process.

The total cost is expected to rise as additional days are tallied. Money to cover these expenses will come from the City’s General Fund budget, which provides for core services for city residents, including support to Human Services, Parks and more.

By working with protest organizers, police leaders believe that they can effectively support people’s right to gather and be heard while maintaining appropriate staffing levels for upcoming events anticipated in the future.

  • 11/13/2014                                     $1,324
  • 11/17/2014                                     $5,039
  • 11/18/2014                                     $3,360
  • 11/19/2014                                     $5,081
  • 11/20/2014                                     $202
  • 11/21/2014                                     $935
  • 11/24/2014                                     $101,571
  • 11/25/2014                                     $43,113
  • 11/26/2014                                     $14,419
  • 11/28/2014                                     $82,431
  • 11/29/2014                                     $81,483
  • 11/30/2014                                     $1,332
  • 12/01/2014                                     $156,161
  • 12/02/2014                                     $89,519

         TOTAL                                        $585,970

By comparison, expenditures at the following one-day events are representative of the cost SPD incurs to provide public safety and traffic mitigation services:

  • Fourth of July 2014                         $462,000
  • May Day 2014                                 $294,000
  • Rock & Roll Marathon 2014             $76,000