by Carolyn Bick, with additional reporting by Jessie McKenna
Seattle Gay News journalist Renee Raketty was sitting on a narrow set of metal steps and trying to catch her breath when the blast ball an officer allegedly threw beneath her exploded. Hours later, still surprised and disoriented, Raketty played the video over and over again, because she still couldn’t believe what had happened. But the permanent loss of hearing in her right ear is all too real.
In the course of reporting Raketty’s story, the Emerald has discovered that SPD appears to be out of compliance with the Consent Decree. An officer’s alleged actions caused Raketty to permanently lose her hearing, which is “a significant permanent loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ.” It would appear that an injury of this severity would be classified as a Type III use of force, according to the SPD manual, and the Consent Decree mandates that all Type III uses of force be reviewed by SPD’s Force Review Board (FRB). But according to officials with the OPA and SPD, this case will not be reviewed by the FRB, as there does not appear to be any mechanism in practice within existing policy with which to do so.
Continue reading Local Journalist Faces Complex Accountability Process That Appears to Show SPD Out of Compliance With Consent Decree
by Alycia Ramirez
Since the death of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer, there have been continuous protests resulting in the nation finally realizing the racial inequities baked into our justice system — especially in law enforcement. Even here in our own Emerald City, white Seattleites are now beginning to see what Black and Brown communities have been pointing out for decades: police brutalize people of color with impunity, and often without consequence, and we throw hundreds of millions of dollars at “arresting away” crime instead of investing those funds back into communities.
Continue reading OPINION: SPOG Head and the SPD are Waging an Old Propaganda War Against Protestors and the Left to Thwart Accountability
by Sally James
An immigrant who came to the United States in 1969, Teresita Batayola remembers some of the confusion she felt arriving in Seattle at age 16. She’s now a president and CEO in charge of 11 health service sites that provide care to an estimated 32,000 people every year, many of whom don’t speak English and can’t afford health insurance. International Community Health Services (ICHS) has deep roots in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, where businesses have been hard hit by both the shut-down of retail and anti-Asian bias.
The Emerald caught up with Batayola and asked her to reflect on the pandemic and how both racism and the virus are hurting patients who come to ICHS. She shared some of her own history and experience with racism over many decades.
Continue reading International Community Health Services CEO Teresita Batayola Talks About Immigrant Health and Social Justice During COVID
by Carolyn Bick
Ever since she found out the Office of Police Accountability (OPA) had paused the investigation into her complaint, Aisling Cooney has been trying to get an estimate of when the office might once again resume the investigation.
Though Seattle Police Department (SPD) Sgt. Aaron Keating, the investigating officer on Cooney’s case, finally answered her question just before 10 a.m. on Sept. 1, he said her investigation would not be resumed until April 2021, because one of the officers named in the complaint would not return from military service until then.
April 2021 is almost an entire year after the incident alleged in the complaint took place. The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) contract prohibits remote interviews of officers, but notably does not do so for civilian complainant interviews. It is unclear why this provision has not changed, particularly in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It also took Cooney making phone calls every day for more than a week and sending numerous emails. Nevertheless, during that time period. top officials at the OPA appear to have ignored her requests for such an estimate and officials at both the OPA and the Office of Inspector General (OIG) — the duties of which involve overseeing the OPA — seem to have skirted her questions as to why they won’t give her an answer. The OPA appears to have barred Cooney from speaking on the phone with the civilian investigator who had previously been working as the intermediary between Cooney and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) officer in charge of her case, as Cooney had declined to speak directly with an SPD officer.
Continue reading Top Officials at the OPA Appear to Ignore Complainant Asking for Basic Information About Her Own Case, Despite Apparent Lack of Legal Hurdles
We asked two community members to weigh in on Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announcing her retirement from SPD. Their two viewpoints follow.
by George Griffin III
Carmen Best is a friend. Good people. Classy, strong. She deserved better.
After everyone gets through scapegoating the Seattle City Council and Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests for her resignation, maybe we should take a good hard look at Seattle’s years of inactivity when People of Color and other people said the department needed some serious reform and restructuring. This lack of attention to the concerns of People of Color and allies contributed to the Seattle Police Department ultimately being placed under the current consent decree after an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2012. Do we need to be reminded how, when Best was interim chief in 2018, she was disrespected and passed over by the current mayor in the initial interview process and how she only got the job after communities of color and allies spoke up? Many prominent people were quiet at that time because they didn’t want to criticize their friend, the new mayor.
Continue reading OPINION: The Importance of Nuance in Confronting Racism
by Wendy Elisheva Somerson
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Klu Klux Klanner [sic], but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically feels that he can set the time-table for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
—Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail
As a longtime Jewish activist for racial justice I was appalled, embarrassed, and saddened by Rabbi Daniel Weiner’s op-ed in the Seattle Times, which, echoing the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., reeks of devotion to order over justice. Supported by other local religious leaders, the op-ed misuses the legacy of John Lewis to attack and chastise brave local activists in the Movement for Black Lives here in Seattle.
Continue reading OPINION: The Movement for Black Lives Honors the Radical Legacy of John Lewis
by Jasmine M. Pulido
I filled out a survey asking me if I’ve experienced racism firsthand.
I almost laughed. I replied into the text box, “Where do I even start?”
I wanted to reply with the shorthand, “TMTM” (“Too Many to Mention”) like you would in high school, but with an entirely different connotation. Instead, I started to list them as succinctly as possible to get a real handle of what this looked like on paper. This was only for experiences at my daughters’ predominantly white school as a parent of color. There are more outside of it (#ManyMore #TooManyToMention).
The survey brought it all up again.
Continue reading The Sleep-Walking White Ally
by Roble Musse
Buying a home, being paid on time, getting a business loan. We often don’t think about the ways in which access to a bank account determines the course of our lives. Yet there are businesses, mostly operated by-and-for immigrants and communities of color, that are being shut out of the banking sector in a type of financial redlining.
Continue reading OPINION: The Right to Be Banked — Why Some Black and Immigrant Owned Businesses Are Being Redlined and What We Can Do About It
by Cindy Domingo
Amid the current worldwide pandemic, two presidents — over 8,000 miles apart — seem to have been trained from the same leadership course. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Union address delivered on July 27 was filled with rants against his critics and personal grudges against the media. There was no roadmap laid out to lead the country out of the health, political, and economic crisis facing the Filipino people. Issues of unemployment, poverty, and illness went unmentioned while Duterte focused on his drug war and the death penalty. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this is a painful reminder of President Donald Trump and his lack of leadership in our nation’s time of crisis.
Both Trump and Duterte initially refused to acknowledge the seriousness of COVID-19, allowing the virus to spread unfettered and leaving governors, mayors, and other local officials to handle the pandemic without the appropriate funding or a unified national strategy. Finally, when the international and domestic pressure became too much to bear and the COVID-19 deaths and illnesses continued to mount, both presidents were forced to act.
Continue reading Dictator and Apprentice: Duterte and Trump
by Sarah Stuteville
I did not know Summer Taylor. And Seattle is a small town at its heart, so I knew them the way I sort of know everyone here through a few degrees of separation — a housemate who worked with them at a doggy daycare, a shared neighborhood, the unconfirmed possibility they helped my flea-bitten cat a few months ago.
I did not know Summer Taylor. And the internet is a strange hall of mirrors where we reflect each other in tricky ways that can feel like “knowing.” Summer jokes about parkour in a grainy video, smiles gleefully up to the left corner of our phone screens and dances the Cupid Shuffle on I-5 free of the terrible knowledge we viewers hold — that there is a car speeding toward them just a few minutes out of frame.
Continue reading I Did Not Know Summer Taylor, But I Know Their Power