Tag Archives: Seattle City Council

Seattle Protests Stand at 150 Days and Counting

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

Council Staff: Mayor’s Proposals Could Promote “Racism Cloaked in the Language of Anti-Racism and Equity”

by Erica C. Barnett 

(This article was originally published by PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.) 


Foreshadowing what will likely be a heated debate over Mayor Jenny Durkan’s plan to wall off $100 million in the city budget for future “investments in BIPOC communities” that will be decided by an Equitable Investment Task Force appointed by the mayor, Seattle City Council central staff released an unusually blunt memo last week cataloguing potential issues with the mayor’s plan.

The memo raises two high-level issues with Durkan’s proposal. First, according to the staffers, it duplicates work that the City has already done, perpetuating the City’s practice of asking members of marginalized communities to provide recommendations again and again without ever taking action on those recommendations.

Continue reading Council Staff: Mayor’s Proposals Could Promote “Racism Cloaked in the Language of Anti-Racism and Equity”

Incoming Cold Snap This Weekend Could Prove Lethal for Unhoused People. Here’s How to Help.

by Carolyn Bick


“Deaths of despair” is what WHEEL executive committee member Anitra Freeman calls most of the ways in which 106 unhoused people have already died this year.

“Suicides, homicides, and drug overdoses — all three are deaths of despair. They are things that happen when people are extremely stressed out. … All the time, being homeless is stressful, but it’s even more stressful than ever, this year,” Freeman said, referring to the current novel coronavirus pandemic.

But there is now another worry plaguing the unhoused community and their advocates: the incoming early cold snap set to hit Seattle this weekend.

Already, two people have died from hypothermia this year, data from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office compiled by homelessness advocacy and shelter nonprofit SHARE/WHEEL shows. One of those deaths was in late May, when the recorded low that day was 50 degrees Fahrenheit and the high was 74 degree Fahrenheit.

“In this environment, it doesn’t have to be extremely cold to kill you. Just getting wet and not being able to get dry can kill you,” Freeman said.

David White, who lives in SHARE-managed Tent City 3 in North Seattle with his nine-year-old spaniel Gabe, knows well what it feels like to be wet and cold. A recent transplant from Iowa, White has only been living in Seattle since June, but has been on the road on and off for years. He is one of the city’s nearly 12,000 unhoused residents, and currently only lives here so that he can have access to a neurosurgeon to handle some spinal problems from which he will then need to heal in a sterile environment.

While White himself has a safe place to rest his head, he knows that not everyone does.

“We have resources being donated to Tent City, and we have protection from the elements in these tents … but people sleeping loose in doorways, or people who are camped by themselves don’t always have that support,” White said. “We’ve got hot food donated every day and a coffeemaker. [Other unhoused people] don’t have those means necessarily to get themselves internally warm.”

Even though the managed encampment is a much better place to live than out on the street, White said supplies of warm items — particularly blankets and men’s clothes in sizes ranging from medium to 2XL — are running low. He said the encampment could also use “anything waterproof,” as well as wool socks, which are much better than cotton socks that let in the cold and, once wet, are essentially useless. Even sleeping bags with broken zippers are great, White said — “makes a great quilt!” — and new tents are always welcome to replace the ones at the encampment that are old and falling apart.

The best things are “stuff for layering,” White said, because of the variable temperatures and the incoming cold.

“It’s warm now … but this morning I sure needed them,” White said, referring to blankets and warm layers. “We don’t have an indoors to go to.”

White also said that while Tent City 3 is fortunate enough to have portable toilets that are emptied daily, those who don’t have access to that would likely appreciate a plastic bag and a roll of toilet paper.

“It’s hard to find a safe place to go to the restroom,” White remarked. “A lot of people are using alleys or bushes or whatever.”

Anyone interested in donating to Tent City 3 can find more information about what the encampment needs here, while other SHARE/WHEEL-managed encampments’ needs can be found here. Donations to Tent City 3 can be dropped off at any time.

For those who are interested in helping, but want to start closer to home, Homeless Organizing Community Seattle (HOCS) co-organizer Chris Barker suggested personally asking an unhoused person who lives in the neighborhood what they need. Barker invited those who are interested in getting involved in this way but don’t know where to start to join the HOCS Facebook group and connect with other community members who may already be doing such work. He also said that people may drop off donations at The Waystation, a no-contact drop-off spot in SoDo that is a part of an ongoing grassroots homeless mutual aid network started up in response to the current pandemic.

The cold only serves to add an extra layer of danger to the threat the unhoused community already faces from the pandemic. With nowhere to sleep and little-to-no access to hygiene, it’s more likely that unhoused people will be exposed to the novel coronavirus and die from COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

To that end, Freeman and other homelessness advocates at SHARE/WHEEL are trying to get the Seattle City Council (SCC) to continue funding for SHARE/WHEEL to operate its shelters 24 hours per day, seven days per week into 2021, rather than going back to the old model of only being able to keep the shelters open at night. The group is also pushing for a slew of other proposed budget items, including upgrades to a currently shuttered hygiene center that would allow unhoused people to take showers and wash their clothes, as proper hygiene is key to staying healthy

Freeman said that she and other have been trying to get ahold of other SCC members, as she said only Councilmembers Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant have signed on to the proposal to continue SHARE/WHEEL shelter funding, and a third councilmember needs to sign on for it to pass. However, they haven’t been able to leave voicemails — the mailboxes are full — and emails just receive an automated reply saying the office has been inundated with messages. The deadline for such requests is tonight, Oct. 22.

“I don’t know if any of our last-minute pleas are even going to be noticed before midnight … but keep trying,” Freeman said. “That’s all we can do.”

Late in the evening on Oct. 22, the Emerald learned from Freeman that Councilmember Lisa Herbold signed on before the midnight deadline to continue funding to allow SHARE/WHEEL to keep their shelters open 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

Freeman also said that the Homeless Remembrance Project’s Women in Black will be standing vigil at City Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 27, for another seven unhoused people who died just this past week. Though the group usually holds vigils on Wednesdays, Freeman said they have altered the vigil schedule this coming week to coincide with the SCC’s budget hearings.

When the Emerald asked Freeman, White and Barker what the City could be doing to better help its unhoused residents, Barker said that the City could provide funding for more sanctioned encampments, housing, and more case workers. Freeman said that the City should be opening severe weather shelters now.

White said that that while he has personally not yet had any negative experiences with the City, he thinks the City needs to stop sweeping encampments, a practice that makes people feel unsafe.

“If somebody felt like they weren’t going to have to go hide, maybe they would make a safer camp, or take precautions to sleep in a more obvious spot,” White said. “Really, it’s the harassment by the police that’s really a problem for homeless people.”

Author’s Note: The organizations and groups mentioned in this article are just a few within the City of Seattle.


Carolyn Bick is a journalist and photographer based in South Seattle. You can reach them here and here.

Featured image: A pile of 1,000 stones sits on an ofrenda meant to commemorate homeless people who have died in Seattle at El Centro de la Raza in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 1, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)

A Precarious Compromise on Homeless Outreach Inches Forward

by Erica C. Barnett

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


On Monday, Seattle City Council homelessness committee chair Andrew Lewis introduced a proposal that would restore funding for outreach to homeless encampments and lay the groundwork for what Lewis described as a new City “unsheltered outreach and response team” that would replace the controversial Navigation Team.

The surprising part is that the council and mayor’s office worked together on the legislation. 

Continue reading A Precarious Compromise on Homeless Outreach Inches Forward

OPINION: How we can build equity and economic recovery in Seattle’s 2021 budget

by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide)


The Seattle City Council’s fall budget process this year will be vastly different in many ways, as this moment demands elected leaders to step up and address a multitude of overlapping crises that are presenting themselves at once: an ongoing public health emergency that is COVID-19, a racial reckoning calling for investments in true community safety and long-term systemic change, a climate crisis made palpable by weeks of choking wildfire smoke, and we’re still in the midst of an affordable housing and homelessness crisis that plays out in our streets in every neighborhood in Seattle and in the lives of thousands of our neighbors. 

Continue reading OPINION: How we can build equity and economic recovery in Seattle’s 2021 budget

Durkan Suspends Navigation Team

by Erica C. Barnett 

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


On Wednesday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced in a press release that she is suspending the operations of the Navigation Team — which removes encampments and provides outreach and shelter offers to their displaced residents — and pursuing “out of order” layoffs for 70 Seattle Police Department officers, “with the expectation that layoffs cannot be completed by November 1, 2020.”

The City Council’s adopted budget, which Durkan unsuccessfully attempted to veto, calls for a reduction of 100 police positions and the elimination of the Navigation Team. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the Navigation Team has not been removing encampments in significant numbers.

Continue reading Durkan Suspends Navigation Team

King County Equity Now Announces Community-Based Research Team

by Elizabeth Turnbull


On Monday, the King County Equity Now (KCEN) Coalition unveiled the Black Brilliance Project, a Black-led, community-based research team set to investigate health, public safety and racial equity solutions, with the goal of providing direction and authority on how City funds should be applied toward meeting these needs in 2021. 

The Black Brilliance Project’s first 50 members were on-boarded last week, and the project will ultimately consist of over 100 paid research positions, occupied by various members of the city’s Black community, some of whom spoke at a press conference on Monday. 

Overall, the project will survey the needs of the Black community and provide a potential avenue for community members to be involved in budgeting decisions as an alternative to City-formed task forces that usually decide how money for the Black community is allocated. 

“When we say community voice we don’t mean some task force that is cherry-picked by white wealthy people who already have access to political power,” said KCEN research director Shaun Glaze during a press conference Monday. “Instead of having pre-set priorities, instead of having hand-selected task forces, we are pushing for a community voice and community power to be at the center.”

Continue reading King County Equity Now Announces Community-Based Research Team

OPINION: Mayor Durkan’s Austerity Budget Fails Working People and Black and Brown Communities, Fails to Defund Police

by Kshama Sawant


“It should surprise no one that the Mayor who has overseen police indiscriminately tear gas protest movements is now trying to gaslight an entire city into thinking she believes that Black Lives Matter.”

Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan, who has given us torrents of tear gas, blast balls, and pepper spray, who has staunchly defended Amazon and billionaires from even minimal taxation, and who has presided over brutal austerity budgets, is now offering a 2021 budget that will only double down on hard times for Seattle’s working people and marginalized communities.

Behind her gauzy rhetoric about “reimagining policing” and the “largest-ever investment in racial equity and justice,” Mayor Durkan is proposing a business-as-usual budget that fundamentally fails working people, especially in Black and Brown communities. 

Continue reading OPINION: Mayor Durkan’s Austerity Budget Fails Working People and Black and Brown Communities, Fails to Defund Police

Seattle City Council Overrides Mayor’s 2020 Budget Veto, Leaving In Place Cuts to SPD and Navigation Team

by Erica C. Barnett


On Tuesday evening, The Seattle City Council voted 7-2 to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of the 2020 midyear “rebalancing” budget package they adopted in August, setting the stage for a showdown with the mayor in the upcoming 2021 budget discussions, which kick off formally next Tuesday. 

Continue reading Seattle City Council Overrides Mayor’s 2020 Budget Veto, Leaving In Place Cuts to SPD and Navigation Team

Court Rules that Sawant Recall Campaign Can Press Forward

by Jake Goldstein-Street

(This article was originally published by Capitol Hill Seattle and has been reprinted with permission)


A King County Superior Court Judge has ruled that a petition to recall Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant can move forward.

On Wednesday, Judge Jim Rogers ruled that a recall campaign launched by critics seeking to oust the three-term councilmember that calls for an election after alleged violations of her oath of office could proceed.

Continue reading Court Rules that Sawant Recall Campaign Can Press Forward