by Kamna Shastri
Reverend Harriet Walden has dedicated decades of her life to holding police accountable for their conduct, since long before slogans of “defund the police” echoed along city streets. In 1991, she founded Mothers Against Police Harassment, now known as Mothers For Police Accountability (MFPA). She is admired and respected for her work — and rightly so. A power-house with clear vision, Walden has been advocating for law enforcement to be held accountable for thirty years. Her legacy is powerful.
The incident that sparked Walden’s activism took place on a mid-summer evening on Aug. 5, 1990. One of Walden’s sons was riding home from a community festival with two friends. As the boys were rounding the corner at 29th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, Seattle police officers stopped them, saying they were looking for drugs. Walden’s other son was in the house nearby and came outside because of the noise. The four boys — all high school graduates on their way to college — began to argue with the police, explaining that they had no drugs in their possession, and the argument escalated.
In a 1995 interview on Network X, Walden recounts how the police held guns to the boys’ heads and that all four were beaten up and arrested. Walden was rightfully angry at how the police had treated her sons and their friends, especially as they were found wrongfully charged. Walden was able to get the charges dropped for the youth but sued the City of Seattle for misconduct.Continue reading 30 Years of MFPA: Advocating for Police Transformation