(This article is copublished with The Seattle Times.)
I’m not exactly sure what it says about a city when some of its youth believe they must beg to be heard. That puzzle is what landed me inside Rainier Beach High’s cramped library Jan. 18. The occasion was the second student-led town hall on gun violence in as many weeks, a dialogue with Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz to discuss how violence had eroded their mental, physical, and emotional health.
“Who Keeps Us Safe?” (WKUS) is a podcast by Asian Americans living in Seattle that explores safety, policing, and abolition in our communities and beyond. Join us as we speak with organizers in the Seattle area, and reflect on their work and learnings. We hope that our listeners will use this podcast to begin and/or supplement their own conversations about safety and policing in their own communities. This is a project of PARISOL: Pacific Rim Solidarity Network, a grassroots anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, Hong Konger, Taiwanese, and Chinese* diaspora group based in Seattle. PARISOL is dedicated to local and international solidarity, community building, cultural & politicized learning, abolition, and anti-racist work.
WKUS was originally formatted for radio with local radio station KVRU 105.7FM, which meant that the podcast episodes tended to be about an hour in length. Going forward, the WKUS production crew decided to make future episodes shorter and more casual in format, still focusing on local conversations about safety. Who Keeps Us Safe? is a small volunteer team of community organizers: Alex Chuang, Andy Allen, Chloe Huber, Jenn Shaffer, Makenna O’Keeffe, and Ryan Fang.
Catch up on the most recent conversations by listening to the latest three episodes:
The unfortunate tragedy that resulted in the death of a student at Ingraham High School has once again sparked conversations around whether we need more police in schools in order to keep our students safe.
by Jacqueline B. Helfgott, Brandon N. Bledsoe, and Katie Kepler
The Seattle Public Safety Survey, now in its eighth year, is administered annually from Oct. 15 to Nov. 30. The survey is part of the Micro-Community Policing Plans (MCPP), a collaboration between Seattle University (SU) Crime and Justice Research Center and the Seattle Police Department (SPD), focused on police and community engagement at the neighborhood level.
Inequitable bail laws allow bail companies to extort the poor for the little wealth they have. By working as a proxy for the courts’ cash bail system, bail companies are allowed to engage in extreme wealth transfers in exchange for your freedom. In reality, the U.S. legal system has normalized ransoms. Here’s how it works: If you are charged with a crime but not convicted, the court has the option to set bail. If you can’t afford to post bail, you are stuck in jail pretrial, despite being presumed innocent until proven guilty. You are caged until your case resolves. This process can take years. The courts make their determination based on the statements of police and charges determined by prosecutors. You have no way to refute these frequently baseless allegations. The court presumes the police are telling the truth, despite mountains of evidence that police lie in reports regularly. To obtain your freedom, you must pay the full amount to the court or pay 10% to 15% of the bond ordered by the court to a bail company. The bail company pays the full amount and will be reimbursed once the case resolves. In short, you exchange your limited resources for your freedom. The bail company keeps the 10% to 15% you paid no matter what, even if they are fully reimbursed by the court. They also secure collateral for the full amount. If you fail to appear in court (at times for any reason), and the court forfeits your bond, the bond company keeps your 10% to 15% and can collect on the collateral you signed over in exchange for your freedom. In any other circumstance, a contract leveraging your freedom in exchange for money would be null and void, but the criminal legal system allows it. Already economically depressed families have lost homes, vehicles, and other property as a result. In a disparate system that we know is racist, the central question should be, what about having money makes you safer for the community?
Almost 60 years ago, in the middle of two decades of civil rights activism that changed our country, James Baldwin delivered a speech to teachers, in which he declared that the purpose of education is for students to look critically at their society and to have a vision of change they are willing to fight for. Without such a perspective, he says, we will perish, or follow the worst example of a Nazi youth movement.
In September, King County announced plans to build a new shelter for the unhoused in SoDo, near the CID. The plan was highly controversial as there had been little to no outreach from the County to the CID about the proposal before the plan was announced. The County even seemed to avoid community input by scheduling public hearings during weekday work hours, preventing attendance from many working residents.
“Who Keeps Us Safe?” is a podcast by Asian Americans living in Seattle that explores safety, policing, and abolition in our communities and beyond. Join us monthly as we speak with organizers in the Seattle area, and reflect on their work and learnings. We hope that our listeners will use this podcast to begin and/or supplement their own conversations about safety and policing in their own communities. This is a project of PARISOL: Pacific Rim Solidarity Network, a grassroots anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, Hong Konger, Taiwanese, and Chinese* diaspora group based in Seattle. PARISOL is dedicated to local & international solidarity, community building, cultural & politicized learning, abolition, and anti-racist work.
This episode was produced for the podcast Who Keeps Us Safe? and was previously released in February 2022. The production crew is a small volunteer team of community organizers: Andy Allen, Alex Chuang, Jenn Shaffer, and Ryan Fang.
On Sept. 27, 2022, Mayor Bruce Harrell delivered his budget proposal for 2023, which included a $10 million increase in funding for the Regional Homelessness Authority, a $1 million increase to the $6 million budget for projects designed to reduce traffic collisions in the Rainier Valley, and pay increases for homelessness service providers. The budget also outlines increased spending for police, using the JumpStart payroll tax for non-JumpStart programs, moving the City’s parking enforcement back to the Seattle Police Department, and installing ShotSpotters in Rainier Beach. As Bruce Harrell attempts to follow through with his campaign promise to address public safety concerns, he seeks to undo the abolition efforts of the 2020–2022 state of civil unrest.