Op-Ed: Open Letter to Mayor Durkan During the Covid-19 Crisis

by the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Solidarity Network (Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Awareness Group, Creative Justice, No New Youth Jail, Pacific Rim Solidarity Network)

The city is entering a pandemic and a state of emergency with COVID 19. In light of this urgent public health emergency, we are recommending that the city does the following:

1) Repurposing of the city’s budget dedicated to law enforcement toward other public health efforts 

The city’s efforts to maintain public safety is most adequately addressed in this time by diverting resources and money previously allocated to law enforcement into crucial needs such as housing, hiring of cleaning and maintenance crews, provision of food and basic resources for our most vulnerable communities and aggressive community health education.

In the previous budget cycle, community members highlighted SPD’s budget that could be repurposed for social services that are crucial to public safety and health.

Seattle Police Department

  • Emphasis Patrol
  • Sworn Officer Hiring Incentive
  • Community Service Officers
  • Recruitment and Retention Initiatives
  • Navigation Team





TOTAL  $7, 093333

We call on the Mayor to make an executive decision to transfer this money to boost public health efforts immediately.

2) Seattle Police Department

We understand that a significant amount of Seattle’s city budget at $400 million is allocated to the Seattle Police Department. In light of the racial profiling that SPD has been known to practice on the streets of Seattle as evidenced by the Federal Consent Decree, we are concerned about the behavior and practice of the SPD in this moment of a public health emergency. We are asking for a full and transparent discussion of SPD’s mitigation plan.

We call on SPD to:

  • Immediately suspend the Navigation Team and stop conducting sweeps on houseless communities

Conducting sweeps to clear individuals off the streets and not offering any alternative housing is cruel and exceptionally cruel during this crisis. SPD should suspend all Navigation Team operations and focus on supporting and expanding public health measures.

  • Drastically reduce arrests

In Los Angeles, California, the police reduced arrests significantly, from an average of 300 a day to now 60 a day. Similarly, in Portland, the police department has announced an emergency effort to respond only to life-threatening calls, in an effort both to protect the public and the officers. SPD has yet to release such an emergency proclamation.

We recognize that SPD is continuing to arrest for misdemeanor offenses, many of which may not be filed by the City Attorney’s Office. The arrest process leaves individuals vulnerable to virus transmission. At the very least, the city should stop arresting individuals for misdemeanor offenses that place people at risk.

  • Suspend issuance of parking tickets

The SPD parking enforcement wing has been known to continue issuing parking tickets. At this time when individuals and communities are stressed and self-quarantining to prioritize our collective health, the stress of parking tickets are unnecessary. In line with the eviction moratorium, we call on the city to stop issuing parking tickets.

  • Diverting and repurposing SPD capacity for public health efforts

In other countries, enforcement forces have been repurposed into public health efforts. In Taiwan, recognizing the shortage of masks, military support has been utilized for mask production. Masks are crucial for our community’s safety and well being. We call on a repurposing of SPD employees to engage in life-saving efforts such as

  • Mask production and procurement
  • Production of hand sanitizers & respirators
  • Installation of easily accessible hand sanitizer, hand washing stations throughout Seattle
  • Food preparation for houseless individuals and youth who are unable to attend school
  • Deep cleaning of Seattle streets and buildings to reduce transmission

3) The Seattle Municipal Court

We call on the Seattle Municipal Court to adhere to the Washington State Supreme Court ruling on emergency measures to be taken in Washington State Courts, effective to April 24th. In addition, we call on the court to

  • Suspend all probation violations.
  • Accommodate individuals who may not be able to attend check-ins with probation officers
  • Suspend the need for community service and work crew activities for the duration of this outbreak

4) King County Jail

A corrections officer who had previously worked at King County Jail was found positive for COVID 19 after having been asymptomatic for a while. We are not aware of any emergency mitigation plans from King County Jail that would significantly assure the safety of incarcerated communities inside.

We are aware that the city has a contract with King County Jail. A large number of individuals are incarcerated for pretrial detention due to their inability to pay bail, as well as misdemeanor charges for theft and shoplifting. A lot of poor people find themselves incarcerated due to crimes of poverty such as shoplifting and trespassing, with stays amounting to one to three days.

Given that social distancing and reduced exposure to other carriers is an important public health measure, this unnecessary jail churn is a public health hazard. We call on the Mayor’s office to:

  • Declare pretrial detentions and jail admissions as public health hazards. Terminate jail bookings now.
  • Release individuals currently incarcerated at King County Jail due to involvement in the Seattle Municipal Court
  • Divert resources toward reentry housing and services for individuals exiting the King County Jail

The city has a responsibility to ensure the care and well being of the city’s communities and populations. We call on the Mayor to enact bold changes that can flatten the curve in this moment.

Due to the urgency of the issue at hand, we expect a prompt response from you by Friday March 20th 12pm.


Organizational Endorsements

Creative Justice

La Resistencia

Seattle ACED

QLaw Foundation of Washington

Black and Pink Seattle/Tacoma

public annex

Justice for All

Our family


Post-Prison Education Program

WA Coalition for Prison Reform

Books to Prisoners Seattle

Black Rose/Rosa Negra Seattle


Jewish Voice for Peace Seattle

Columbia Legal Services

Seattle Mennonite Church

Williamson Enterprises

Black and Pink PDX

Mason County Climate Justice

Indivisible Plus: Washington


Critical Bounds

Dharma Friendship Foundation

Indivisible Kirkland

SEIU 775

One America

CID Coalition / #HumbowsNotHotels

National Lawyers Guild, Seattle Chapter

Jews Undoing Institutional Racism

Non-Complicit Student Association at the University of Washington School of Law

Seattle South Asians for Black Lives

Transit Riders Union

Gender Justice Beyond Bars and Binaries

Legal Voice

Post-Prison Education Program


Carrie Freshour

Megan Ybarra

Dan Berger

Becca Meredith

Nikkita Oliver

Dean Spade

Meera Sethi

La Tisha Conto

Cole Willsea

Geoffrey D’Alosio

Jamil Suleman

Tyler Wilch

Laurie Dawson

Shelby Handler

Chelsea Myers

Ross Girshick

Brie Gyncild

Meghan Thompson

Lacie Braun

Aaron Shay

Eric Padget


Jay Billings

Jeffrey Freiberg

Loren Taylor

James Page

Rachel Shapiro


Elena Lyn Orlando

Elise Cooksley

Katie Freeman

Todd Bohannon

Greg Thiessen

Cammie Carl

Natasha I Terry

kai aprill-tomlin

Anna Ivanov



Gordon Werner

Emily Yoshioka

Bruno George

Ashley Barnes-Cocke


Megan Munk

Kelsen Caldwell

Casey Motson

Rosalie May

Tiffani Escalante

Lynnda Escalante

Katie Pekarske

Jason Beutler

Matty Whyte


Jennifer Gosar

Jennifer Gosar

Sophia esparza

Lea Kronenberg

Anna Hackman


Django Paris

Julie Feng

Adrienne Domingus

Natalie Chapman

Brett Miller

Victoria Lewis

Autumn Vanderkloot

Sriram Parasurama

Mara Dauber

Tashina Shepherd


Robyn Greenfield

Eleanor Ryan

Suzanne Cook

Margaret Wilson-Briggs


Susan Wade



Kathleen Starr

Elaine Mehary


Rachel McBain

Kaylen Hendrick

Kathy Frasier

Sina Sam

Jessica Mitchell

Noreen Light

Anita Barker

Liz Spoerri

Julie triggs


Carly Greyell

Elise McKinnon

Kristina Nielander

Charlie Shih

Kimberli Burrow Elam

Matthew Van Duyn

Jenny McIntosh

Hannah Wilson

Sue Kay

Evalynn Romano

Leah Wood

Alison Cheung

Whitney Wood

Grace Ott

Deborah Massachi

Elisa Cozad

Chen-Chen Jiang

Leah VanHoeve

Natalie Snitzer

Florence Sum

Marco Henry

Tamara Lea Spira

Michael Foster

Felipe Perez III

Otelia Lundberg

Heather Carawan

Emily Pacunski

Charlie Kundts

Meagan Bernatchez

Jessica Rock

Linh Nguyen

Riley Moos

Alan-Michael Weatherford

Jonathan Pincus

Autumn James

Talonya Adams

Christoph Adams

Mary Mitchell

Dennis Young

Rachel Page

Thomas Sargent Moore

Maureen Janega

Annette Klapstein

Alexa Fay

Alora McGavin

Sela Mafi

Juawana Grant


Juliet Le


Amanda miller

Kelsey Souza

Phoebe Faulkner

Chanda Mak

Chessie Snider

Francis Jason

Jackson Pietsch

Bana Be

Erin Wolf

Sewheat Asfaha

Lynn Ausley

Joanne Glant

Bruce Glant

Jeanne Berry

Tonya Tolliver

Sophia Posnock

Paula Bond

Shania Card


  1. Williams

TJ Main


Seattle People’s Party

Washington Building Leaders of Change

Rell Be Free

Sweller weller

quinn rao

Sarah Staley

Karen Taylor

Mollie Wolf

Scout Smedley

Steve Leigh

Sarah Egger

Jeff Campbell

Sam Lee


Fiona Sheehan


Sara Yinling Post

Jack Finley

Mac Peyton

Kathryn Sanlis

Susan Wade

Rebecca Petersen

David Ellenwood

Brittney Bush Bollay

Mai Takahashi

Fletcher Christie


Ross Kirshenbaum

Lesley Hoare

Sarah Bishop

April Zhang

Ashleen O’Brien

Kristina Nielander

Heather Dockery

Darius Fullmer

Guy Oron

Maya Ramakrishnan

Laura De Vos

Denise Grollmus

Gus Voss

linh nguyen

Sierra Kaplan-Nelson

Jane Singer

Susan Sheinfeld

Shannon Carman

Rebecca Allen

Bruno George

Aditi Rajendran

Jieyi Arthur Ludden

Nicole Bearden

Naomi Finkelstein

Katherine Schaff, DrPH

Sharon Tsoi

Claire Clayton

Anna Jacobsen

Eamon Redding

Keren Ram

Agnes P. Cwalina

Will Toaspern

Allison Goldberg

Jordan Van Voast

Eliana Horn

Linda Vong

Ruby Harlin

Rae Paris

Stevie Houpt

Mary RobertS

carrie matthews

Ed Mast

Tianna Andresen

Madeleine Sosin

Jasmine Fernandez

Nick San

Miya Woo

Jeremy Milloy

Maria Porter Steward

Michael H McIntosh

Willa Osborn

Diana Xin

Jared Austen Maddox

Amanda Brown

Chelsea Moore


John Stovall

Carl W Elliott

Cassandra Yabes

Kovas Zygas

Miranda Mellis

Marc Mazique

Omid Bagheri Garakani

Sarah Cornett

Letauaeletise Hunkin

Caleb Knapp

Soya Jung

Nina Wallace

Riddhi Mehta-Neugebauer

Camille Walsh

Linda Phan

Meredith Ruff


Aleksandrea Johnson

Alena Huynh

Justin totaan

Elicia Shotland

Leo Farbman

Rachel Anderson

Anna Fernandez

carol williams

Michelle Kriebel

Zainab Jabboua

Eden Amital

Maana Mesbahi

Tess Matsukawa

Maren Nielsen-Thompson

Peggy Korpela

Kelly Johnson

Laura Stembridge

Emily Silva

Arianna Nord

Gillian Harkins

Carly Greyell

Gregory Lewis

Noah Collier

Devon de Leña

Naomi Smith

Aidan Moore

Emily Rose Childs

Derek Boiko-Weyrauch

Emmett Moore

Summer Diegel

Nicole C Zeller

Rose Ernst

Aaron Hartwell

Kim Wool

Darcy Peth

Karyn Poblocki

Aaron Shay

Talya Gillman

Kirstin Wagner

Sayer Rippey

Amber Khan

gretchen siegrist

Charles Collins

Oloth Insyxiengmay

Shirley gumabon

Vanessa Moreno

Jay Thompson


Alia Taqieddin

Koko Takahashi

Mike Phimpiela

Alexandria Jones

Norma Timbang

Courtney Morales Thrall

Nicollette Roe

Carmen Felicia Forsman

Alex Eisenberg

Sharrin Manor

Tara Fisher

Joanne Murayama

Andrew Hedden

Cameron Withey

Emijah Smith

Chris Eisenberg

Anthea Hubanks

Rita Montour

Gretchen Sleicher

Matthew Hernandez

Jeremiah Bourgeois

Lorena Mendoza-Flores

Karla Davis

Phebe Jewell

Luke Patterson

Tera Oglesby

Adrian Tunney

Pranava Raparla

Michael Paradis

Lourdez Velasco

Mel Landquist

William McKeithen

Susan Helf

Denise Hotchkiss

vy nguyen

Chris Eisenberg

Lucien spect

Benji Astrachan

Madeleine Vidger

Jennifer Ting

Helena Ribeiro

Laura Elaine Daza

Iris Carrera

Shanine Lofton

Hannah Myrick

Jessica Frank

Sarah K Burkhalter

Lorinda Rowledge


Rosanna Sze

Sara Brickman

Paige Lester

Evelyn Morris

Kayleen Oka

Alex Eisenberg

Featured image by Kevin Schofield