by Alycia Ramirez
Since the death of George Floyd last spring, the term “Defund the Police” has jumped into the public conscientious, but not by some twist in fate or happenstance. The fight for police accountability and reform has been a generations-long battle, which has coalesced into what we see today with the Defund the Police movement.
In over 100 years of policing there has been repeated violence directed at Black and Brown communities at the hands of police, and little meaningful reform to stop or reduce it. White America may be just fine with doing the absolute bare minimum and maintaining the status quo, but marginalized communities may not be so willing to endure another century of violence directed at them.
The uncomfortable truth is that police forces were originally created in our nation for the purpose of upholding white supremacy. They were slave catchers, created for the explicit purpose of capturing runaway slaves.
Continue reading OPINION: Defund the Police Isn’t a Slogan, It’s a Call to Action in Response to Generations of Racial Violence and BIPOC Communities Should Be Leading
by Elizabeth Turnbull
Over a week after Dolal Idd was fatally shot by police in Minneapolis, roughly 150 people gathered in front of the Tukwila Library on Sunday, Jan. 10, to honor the Somali American man’s life and to call for systemic change.
Many speakers mourned the loss of another Black life and spoke to the need for nationwide action on policing. Shukri Olow, a candidate for King County Council District 5, which encompasses some of South Seattle, spoke as a member of the Somali-Muslim community and as a mother herself.
“When I heard about what happened to Dolal, I couldn’t help but feel the pain of his mother, who ran away from the civil war to find a safe environment for her children,” Olow said. “I want you to think about fleeing a conflict … coming to safe shores only to have your child killed by a system that you do not understand, a system that does not see our humanity.”
Continue reading Vigil for Dolal Idd in Tukwila Shows Solidarity for Somali-Muslim Community and Demands Change
by M. Anthony Davis
I once read an article by Larry Mizell, Jr. where he quoted some famous guy who said “great music is often sparked by a revolution.” As I listened to “12th and Pine,” the new Marshall Law Band album that was birthed from the summer protests in Seattle, those words reverberated in my head. This album, the latest creation of the band that garnered national media attention during a six-day residency playing the soundtrack to protests outside of the East Precinct in Capitol Hill, was literally conceptualized, written, and recorded during the protests.
Continue reading Marshall Law Band’s Debut Album ‘12th and Pine’ Examines Leadership and Responsibility After a Summer of Protest
by Elizabeth Turnbull
On Monday night, the cold streets surrounding Westlake Park transformed into an echo chamber of drum beats, footsteps, and chants of “No good cops in a racist system! No bad protesters in a revolution!” as roughly 500 protesters marched to where the protests began in Seattle roughly 150 days before.
After an anticipatory drumroll, several protesters stood up on the park’s stage and unfurled a banner that read, “You Can’t Stop This Revolution” on one side and “Montgomery Bus Boycott: 381 Days, Seattle BLM Protests: 150 Days” on the other.
Continue reading Seattle Protests Stand at 150 Days and Counting
by Vivian Hua 華婷婷
(This article first ran in REDEFINE Magazine and appears under a co-publishing agreement.)
Speak to Renton-based visual artist barry johnson for any substantial amount of time, and one quickly understands why his latest catchphrase, “anything is anything,” has become an overarching mantra. As johnson explains, “Because I’m a self-taught artist, [the phrase] gives me freedom …”
“anything is anything” was the title of johnson’s first solo art show at Tacoma’s Alma Mater in August 2019, and is now the title of his weekly podcast on “the origins of myths, idioms, stories, and nonsense.” Both offer tiny glimpses into johnson’s varied interests and atraditional way of moving through traditional art spaces, which has led to an art practice that includes numerous mediums, from painting and architecture to performance and film — all with a focus on Black communities.
Continue reading barry johnson Artist Interview: “anything is anything” Can Become Structural Change
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