Tag Archives: PubliCola

In Victory for Families of People Killed by Police, Court Allows Inquest Reforms

by Paul Kiefer

(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement)


The Washington State Supreme Court sided with the families of people killed by police officers in a unanimous decision Thursday, restoring reforms to King County’s inquest process that have stalled since 2018 under pressure from law enforcement agencies.

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Homeless Service Providers, City Employees Told to Use Encrypted App

by Erica C.Barnett

(This article originally appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


One of the leaders of the Homelessness Outreach and Provider Ecosystem (HOPE) Team, a Human Services Department-led group that coordinates outreach work at encampments, directed city staff and nonprofit outreach contractors earlier this year to stop using text messages, which are subject to public disclosure, to communicate about homeless encampment outreach and removals.

Instead, the HOPE Team leader, Christina Korpi, wrote in an April 8 email that staffers should use Signal, an encrypted private messaging app commonly used by activists, journalists, and others who want to shield their messages so that they can’t be read by anyone except the intended recipient. Signal can be set to auto-delete messages on both the sender and the recipient’s phones, making them impossible to recover.

In Korpi’s email, which went out to dozens of outreach providers and at least eight city staffers, including the members of the HOPE Team, she wrote, “We are planning to start using the Signal app instead of text message thread for field communications. Please download this app on your phone, or let me know if you have concerns or questions about using it.”

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Council Reviews New Version of ‘Less-Lethal’ Weapons Ban

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold introduced the latest version of legislation intended to restrict the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) use of so-called “less-lethal weapons” against demonstrators during a Public Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 22, more than a year after the council first began its efforts to limit SPD’s crowd control arsenal. The proposal would restrict the use of tear gas, pepper-ball launchers, and pepper spray by SPD officers responding to protests and outright ban five other less-lethal weapons, including blast balls.

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Resentencing Continues Under Law Correcting Harsh ‘Three-Strikes’ Convictions

by Paul Kiefer

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


On the afternoon of Friday, June 18, 63-year-old Raymond Ben became the fifth person from King County to be resentenced under a new state law intended to correct decades of harsh mandatory sentences by retroactively removing second-degree robbery from the list of offenses targeted by the state’s “three-strikes” statute, which imposes a life sentence without parole for so-called “persistent offenders.”

The law requires prosecutors to request resentencing hearings by July 25 for anyone currently serving a life sentence for a “three-strikes” case involving a second-degree robbery — which, unlike other three-strikes offenses like rape and manslaughter, typically doesn’t involve a weapon or injury to another person. The law made at least 114 people across Washington eligible for resentencing, including 29 people from King County — many of whom, like Ben, have spent a decade or more in prison.

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City Denies Permit for Event Commemorating the Art of CHOP

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


UPDATE: On Thursday afternoon, the ACLU of Washington and Public Defender Association sent a letter to the city attorney’s office, along with several City department leaders, calling the decision to deny CHOP Art’s permit “unconstitutional” and saying “we may need to take emergency legal action” if the city doesn’t act. They say the denial was clearly based on the content of the event itself rather than any legitimate “safety” concerns.

The City, as we reported this morning, has claimed that community members have said that any event commemorating CHOP, including an event celebrating the art of the protest, “would be disturbing or even traumatic” and that they applied a higher-than-usual safety standard because of violence that occurred during last year’s protests.

Original story follows . . .

Mark Anthony doesn’t know why the City declined his permit for an event in Cal Anderson Park after working with his group, CHOP Art, for the last eight months, but he has a theory: “I think that it got up to the mayor’s office, and I think they’re trying to say that CHOP itself is something that’s violent or negative, which isn’t true,” he said.

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Can the Seattle Police Department Consent Decree Be Fixed?

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article was previously published on PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


On Tuesday, the Seattle City Council rejected a proposal to cut $2.83 million from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) budget, bringing an end to a months-long debate and raising questions about whether federal oversight is the right path toward reforming the department.

For almost a decade, SPD has been under federal oversight through an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice called a consent decree. The consent decree, which Seattle entered in 2012, was supposed to ensure that SPD corrected a pattern of using unjustified force and racially biased policing, among other reforms.

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City Finally Funds Street Sinks Six Months After Funding From City Council

by Erica C. Barnett

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


Six months after the City Council allocated $100,000 to “develop and implement a publicly accessible sink program that utilizes the Street Sink style handwashing station model developed by the Clean Hands Collective,” Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has finally chosen two vendors to receive the money.

Slightly more than half, $60,000, will go to the Clean Hands Collective, an organization founded by Real Change that includes landscape architects and public health experts; the rest, $40,000, will go to Seattle Makers, a South Lake Union “makerspace” that designed a prototype “handwashing station” at an estimated cost of $7,250 per unit — about 10 times the price of Clean Hands’ Street Sink. According to Seattle Makers’ website, the City reached out to them to design the sink.

Tiffani McCoy, the advocacy director at Real Change, said she thinks “we can easily put up 45 sinks for the $60,000,” assuming it will cost about $10,000 to roll out the program — a process that will include building and maintaining the sinks as well as finding new locations for many of them.

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Former SPD Officer Featured in CBS Report Has a ‘Troubled’ History

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article was previously published at PubliCola and has been reprinted with permission.)


The former Seattle police officer who condemned city leadership for abandoning the Seattle Police Department in a CBS news segment on Wednesday left SPD with a record of harassment and violent outbursts, one of which drew condemnation — but not criminal charges — from City Attorney Pete Holmes in 2013. In his appearance, Powell blamed the Seattle City Council for the exodus of 260 officers from SPD in the past year and a half, and claimed city leaders “didn’t allow [officers] to intervene” to prevent violence during last summer’s protests.

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Police Chief Diaz Explains Why He Hasn’t Fired Officers for Excessive Use of Force

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


On Wednesday, May 12,  interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz announced his decision to overturn the Office of Police Accountability’s (OPA) findings in one of the most prominent misconduct cases of last summer’s protests. The case centered on the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD’s) use of blast balls, tear gas, and pepper spray against protesters at the intersection of 11th Avenue and Pine Street on the evening of June 1, 2020, after an officer attempted to yank a pink umbrella out of a protester’s hands.

The chief’s decision to overturn the OPA’s finding of excessive force against Lieutenant John Brooks, who gave the order to use the weapons against protesters, sparked an outcry from police accountability advocates and activist groups. The Community Police Commission (CPC), one of Seattle’s trio of police oversight bodies, called Diaz’s decision “detrimental to community trust in SPD and Seattle’s entire police accountability system,” particularly because he offered no detail about how he would hold decision-makers at a “higher level of command authority” responsible in lieu of Brooks.

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Participatory Budgeting ‘Clearly Delayed Until Next Year’

by Paul Faruq Kiefer

(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


Seattle’s participatory budgeting process, which received $30 million in the 2021 city budget adopted last year, “is now clearly delayed until next year,” Seattle City Councilmember Tammy Morales confirmed by email Wednesday.

The City Council identified participatory budgeting as a way to allocate spending on alternatives to policing last year. But the timeline to get the process underway has been unclear for months because of uncertainty about who will manage the process. The council is considering two options, but Morales has been reluctant to move forward with either alternative.

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