(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
On Wednesday afternoon, the Seattle Police Department confirmed that at least five of its officers were present at the rally held by former President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. on January 6 that preceded the hours-long attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters. More than a week after an SPD officer reported two of his colleagues to his superiors for a Facebook photo of the pair at the rally, three more officers notified the department that they, too, had attended the event.
Indigenous peoples and communities have long used stories to understand the world and our place in it. Seedcast is a story-centered podcast by Nia Tero and a special monthly column produced in partnership with the South Seattle Emerald about nurturing and rooting stories of the Indigenous experience.
We are living through some of the most historic events in the short history of the United States right now, and there’s a question I can’t shake: how does the reaction of law enforcement to the storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, compare to the reaction of law enforcement to Indigenous-led protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline or Standing Rock? We’re spending the first part of 2021 deep in planning for our next set of Seedcast episodes, so here is a separate conversation I had with community steward/organizer and father Matt Remle (Hunkpapa Lakota) about his take on last week’s insurgency, his assessment of the inequalities laid bare, and our hopes and responsibilities in the wake of it. We got to know each other while working on the campaign to get Wells Fargo to divest from the Dakota Access Pipeline. Matt is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and was a local Seattle leader in that campaign.
It is the best of times and the worst of times. A time to celebrate the inauguration of a new president and a history-making vice president. Yet this is also a time of insurrection, impeachment, and a Republican party that continues to fail to take any accountability for lies and inaction in our nation’s capital and here at home.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night Take these broken wings and learn to fly All your life You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night Take these sunken eyes and learn to see All your life You were only waiting for this moment to be free.
Blackbird fly, blackbird fly Into the light of the dark black night.
These lyrics from the classic tribute to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s by the Beatles pop into my head every time I see a photo of Stacey Abrams. My throat gets dry, tears well up, and I get goose bumps. How prescient those words are.
Watching the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of white supremacist election deniers, I assumed I’d need to delay my column about Seattle policing. Among other things, new data visualizations from the University of Washington Communication Leadership program (published throughout this column) show that an overwhelming majority of Seattle police officers live outside of Seattle. It’s a fact with deep financial and cultural implications for the movement to defund the Seattle Police Department (SPD).