NEWS GLEAMS | New Director of the OPA Nominated by Harrell, 16th Annual Duwamish River Festival Aug. 6, & More

A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!

curated by Vee Hua 華婷婷

In anticipation of possible future Supreme Court decisions ahead, the House just passed legislation to protect marriage equality, but the fight is not quite over. Mayor Bruce Harrell has also nominated a new director for the Office of Police Accountability; plus, we offer a brief recap of his plans to bring more police to Seattle and City Council’s new legislation to strengthen police accountability.

On a brighter note, it has been some time since the Duwamish River has looked as sparkly as it does now. Don’t miss the free all-day festival that pays homage to the importance of clean water through art, activities, and community.

—Vee Hua 華婷婷, interim managing editor for the South Seattle Emerald

✨Gleaming This Week✨

House Passes Marriage Equality Bill With Bipartisan Support; Needs Senate Approval

While the House has failed to pass legislation in support of reproductive rights after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, on Tuesday, it passed the Respect for Marriage Act in a 267-157 vote. 47 Republicans joined Democrats to support the measure, and 7 Republicans did not vote. 

According to The Hill, “If passed by the Senate and signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act would also require that individuals be considered married if they were wed in a state where marriage was legal. The provision, according to the House Judiciary Committee, ensures that same-sex and interracial couples are treated equally to other married individuals at the federal level.”

It is widely reported that the bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

Interim police chief Adrian Diaz stands at a podium, flanked by Mayor Bruce Harrell and members of his administration
Interim police chief Adrian Diaz, flanked by Mayor Bruce Harrell and members of his administration. (Photo: Paul Kiefer)

Mayor Harrell Outlines Recruitment Strategy for SPD

In response to the departure of over 400 Seattle Police Department officers since 2019, Mayor Bruce Harrell, joined by SPD interim Chief Adrian Diaz, announced a recruitment strategy last week to bring officers to Seattle.

Key elements outlined in their press release include: diversifying their applicant pool; offering hiring incentives of up to $30,000 for lateral transfers and $7,500 for new recruits; providing travel and relocation expenses when hired; and hiring additional staff dedicated to recruitment.

City Council must formalize the plan for it to go into effect, but councilmembers feel mixed about the approach. Learn more about the nuances of council perspectives via The Stranger.

Photo depicting a Seattle Police Department van deployed as part of the Geroge Floyd protests on Capitol Hill in Seattle on June 3, 2020.
George Floyd protests in Seattle on June 3, 2020. Photo attributed to SounderBruce (under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license).

Gino Betts Nominated as New Director for the Office of Police Accountability

Mayor Harrell announced on Tuesday, July 19, a nomination for Gino Betts to be the new civilian director for the Office of Police Accountability (OPA). Betts is assistant state attorney at the Community Justice Center within the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Chicago, Illinois. He was among four candidates that participated in a virtual public forum in early June; watch his responses via The Seattle Channel.

In the mayor’s press release, Betts said, “This is a new opportunity to bring a fresh lens and deliberate approach to these challenging issues — moving forward by engaging community through thorough investigations driven by honesty, transparency, and a dedication to the truth. My pledge to Seattle and all its residents is to evaluate each case brought before me by striving to fully understand the details, facts, and nuances, while never losing sight of justice and the need for true, meaningful accountability.”

If the mayor’s nomination is approved by City Council, Betts will be the fifth civilian director of the OPA, which investigates police misconduct. Recent reporting by the Emerald’s Watchdragon column has raised questions about the office’s level of accountability to community members.

Seattle City Council Passes Legislation to Strengthen Police Accountability

On Tuesday, July 19, Seattle City Council passed legislation sponsored by Councilmember Lisa Herbold, chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, to “strengthen Seattle’s police accountability system by creating clear and fair standards for investigating complaints made against the chief of police,” according to a press release.

“This legislation establishes a process for the intake, evaluation, classification, and investigation of such complaints either by a City unit or by an independent investigative body that is external to the City,” it continues. “That process would involve the Office of Inspector General. The legislation also requires key stakeholders and the person who made the complaint be notified at investigative milestones. It also makes clear SPD will not be involved in these investigations.”

16th Annual Duwamish River Festival to Take Place at Newly Restored Habitat in South Park

In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated the Duwamish River a Superfund site due to its high level of pollution and toxicity. Superfund is the name of a federal law that requires the nation’s most toxic sites to be identified and cleaned up.

Last Saturday, nearly two decades later, the Port of Seattle hosted a celebration to mark the opening of the Duwamish River People’s Park and Shoreline Habitat (formerly Terminal 117). The cleanup effort is the largest habitat restoration site along the Duwamish River in a generation.

Activations at the park are now underway, including the 16th Annual Duwamish River Festival (Festival del Río Duwamish) on Saturday, Aug. 6. According to their press release, the festival “will be an opportunity to celebrate and reflect on 50 years of the Clean Water Act and focus on how far we’ve come and how much farther we must go to protect our water, our health and ecosystems.”

Running from noon to 5:00 p.m., the event will feature a family-friendly mix of educational activities, music, arts, culture and entertainment. Guest participants include the Duwamish Tribe, Joyas Mestizas, Neon Bras Party, Khmer Youth Group Dance, and more.

For more information on how to volunteer, or become a sponsor, please visit the festival website

Information about the Duwamish People’s Park and its history, including translated materials in Spanish, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Somali, can be found on the Port’s website or through their video.

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