A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
curated by Emerald Editors
This weekend, the City of Seattle officially celebrates Juneteenth as a holiday for the first time, based on legislation sponsored by Councilmember Tammy Morales in 2021. Make sure you check out the Emerald’s guides on South End events celebrating Juneteenth and Pride 2022!
This week’s News Gleams are heavily focused on topics of police accountability and reform, including new proposed legislation and the upcoming inquest into the death of Charleena Lyles. Relatedly, the Emerald’s latest Watchdragon coverage uncovers former Police Chief Carmen Best’s involvement in the abandonment of the East Precinct during the 2020 protests, and much more.
—Vee Hua 華婷婷, interim managing editor for the South Seattle Emerald
✨Gleaming This Week✨
- Inquest Into Death of Charleena Lyles Begins
- Seattle City Council Passes Contract Deal With Seattle Police Management Association
- Additional Police Accountability Legislation Heard in Committee
- Washington Ethnic Studies Now Presents Second Annual Youth Activist Academy
Inquest Into Death of Charleena Lyles Begins
On Tuesday, June 21, the inquest into the wrongful death of Charleena Lyles will begin. Lyles, a Black mother of four and victim of domestic violence, was shot by two Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers in June 2017, following her report of a burglary in her home.
The original lawsuit against the officers was dismissed by former King County Superior Court Judge Julie Spector in January 2019. The family appealed, and the decision was reversed to King County Superior Court and was originally set for trial in February 2022. In November 2021, the City of Seattle reached a $3.5 million settlement with Lyles’ family, but Karen Koehler, the lead attorney of the family, noted at the time that, “The money is representative. Representative of the magnitude of the loss, and acknowledgement, whether they apologize or not.”
Taking place at the Conference Center at the Clark Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle, the inquest is scheduled to run on select weekdays through July 6, with a public livestream available via Zoom.
The two SPD officers have since filed a motion requesting that no video or photos are taken of their faces during the inquest, over concerns around privacy and safety.
Seattle City Council Passes Contract Deal With Seattle Police Management Association
On Tuesday, June 14, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to pass a contract with the Seattle Police Management Association (SPMA) – one of Seattle’s two police unions, which represents Seattle police lieutenants and captains.
According to PubliCola, “The contract would establish new restrictions on arbitration (a process through which police can appeal disciplinary decisions for misconduct), make it harder for SPD to ‘run out the clock’ on investigations, and implement other key provisions of the city’s landmark 2017 accountability ordinance.”
Its passing holds potential implications for the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), which represents hundreds of police officers and sergeants. SPOG, whose previous contract expired at the end of 2020, is in the early phases of negotiating their own contract with the City.
Additional Police Accountability Legislation Heard in Committee
The same day of the SPMA vote, the City Council’s Public Safety and Human Services Committee discussed new potential legislation for police accountability. The proposed ordinance, sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, aims to include greater roles for the Seattle Department of Human Resources and Office of Inspector General. In some instances, it details a process for appointing outside, independent investigators.
The proposed ordinance would also establish a process for handling complaints levied against the chief of police, including additional oversight by other departments, establishing deadlines, and notifying elected officials and other police accountability stakeholders when a complaint names the chief. This is in part born out of complaints filed against the chief of police following the protests of 2020; due to a lack of clear process, three complaints remain unresolved.
Washington Ethnic Studies Now Presents Second Annual Youth Activist Academy
Registration is still open to youth ages 10–16 for Washington Ethnic Studies Now’s second annual Youth Activist Academy. The academy will be held from July 6 to 20 at the Woodland Park Zoo and the University of Washington and has a sliding-scale registration fee.
Participants will learn about and engage in different types of activism. They will design training for educators, write policy and legislation, create ethnic studies curriculum, engage in restorative justice work, practice self-care and radical self-love, and learn about developing and facilitating youth organizations.
Stay tuned for the Emerald’s guides on summer opportunities for youth, K–12, as well as a feature on community safety and gun violence prevention efforts which create healthy engagement opportunities for teens and young adults.
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