Controversial reverend hosts event that prompts protests in Bellevue

Police in Bellevue were on high alert Tuesday night as several planned protests took place and a group marched in the streets of downtown. 

The activity was initially in response to a law enforcement appreciation dinner that was hosted by Reverend Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham, who has become a controversial figure for making anti-LGBTQ rights statements in the past.

Seattle Police declined an invitation to join the event. Bellevue Police said they were not invited.

"I’ve always felt welcomed as a queer man here until really this moment," said Chris Randels of Bellevue. "BPD and the city can’t just have a hands-off approach. They need to formally come out and say this event is not condoned by the city and then officers should not attend."

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Bellevue Police said its officers have been monitoring activity online leading up to Tuesday’s events, including posts that were threatening violence against peaceful protesters.

"The rhetoric in there is encouraging people to bring projectiles, encouraging some activity that would be against the law. We encourage people to express their First Amendment right. We want to create an environment to come here and express themselves peacefully and make sure they are heard by the other members of the public," said Major Andrew Popochock of Bellevue Police. "At the same point in time, we don’t want criminal activity."

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Police officers were out in full force on bike patrols, vehicles, motorcycles and even up in the air in a helicopter.

So far, Bellevue Police have arrested one individual connected to an investigation of assault on an officer.

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