On Tuesday, over 100 people gathered on Capitol Hill for a rally and protest, in which march organizers reiterated their demand to defund the Seattle Police Department (SPD) by 50%. Council member Kshama Sawant, speaking to the marchers, specifically denied that the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG) stands in the way of defunding.
Every Day March organizers, who put on the rally, spoke about the current relationship between the Seattle Police force and the Black community and the need to channel funding to the Black community in order to provide better schools and equitable community development.
“You can’t keep oppressing the people who are paying your salaries and not expect them to fight for themselves,” said an Every Day March organizer named T.K. “How do our police officers, that are supposed to be serving us, make more money than us? And we’re paying for it!”
On Monday July 27, Mayor Jenny Durkan hosted the sixth virtual Town Hall since the COVID-19 health crisis, specifically focusing on information and resources for Southeast and Central Seattle, as well as answering questions from the community about policing. Durkan was joined by public health officials, including the Director of Public Health and a spokesperson from the Seattle Police Department to answer questions and receive feedback from residents.
In her opening statements, Durkan brought up three main issues: the state of the COVID-19 crisis in Seattle and new public health resources, relief for the economic toll of the pandemic, and the “civil rights reckoning” that has led many to protest for Black lives and brought the actions of SPD under scrutiny.
I did not know Summer Taylor. And Seattle is a small town at its heart, so I knew them the way I sort of know everyone here through a few degrees of separation — a housemate who worked with them at a doggy daycare, a shared neighborhood, the unconfirmed possibility they helped my flea-bitten cat a few months ago.
I did not know Summer Taylor. And the internet is a strange hall of mirrors where we reflect each other in tricky ways that can feel like “knowing.” Summer jokes about parkour in a grainy video, smiles gleefully up to the left corner of our phone screens and dances the Cupid Shuffle on I-5 free of the terrible knowledge we viewers hold — that there is a car speeding toward them just a few minutes out of frame.
When Governor Inslee’s Senior Policy Advisor reached out to me in June of this year to be a part of the Task Force for Policing Reform and Racial Justice, both the activist and the dreamer in me fought for the wheel and began driving toward visions of systemic changes to laws and policies that would keep Black people psychologically and physically safe from unjust murder. I was ecstatic to finally have a seat at the table. The brain storm I wrote over the three days following the announcement of my appointment was around 5,000 words deep.
A man had been murdered by the police. A heartbreaking video of the killing had made it to the internet. Thousands watched as a policeman kneeled on George Floyd’s neck, while Mr. Floyd begged for his life in vain.
Like protesters across the country, Seattle took a stand against police brutality only to experience more police brutality firsthand. Even non-protesters were harmed by the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) negligence. On Capitol Hill, tear gas entered people’s homes and businesses, and the police did not care.
SPD voluntarily abandoned Capitol Hill’s East Precinct, and the neighborhood tone changed to one of collaboration. In a city physically divided by wealth and class, people came together around a common goal: ending police violence against the Black community.
A few days ago, while walking home from the “CHOP” (also known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest) I stopped to talk to a neighbor, who in turn introduced me to her Boomer-age mom, who was visiting Seattle from a rural area of Washington State.
“You all gardening?” I asked, sucking air through the thick fabric of my face mask. “Actually … we just got back from the … CHOP. My mom wanted to see it,” my neighbor answered with the halting uncertainty many Seattleites use to describe this anarchic organism of a protest that has drawn fire — literally and figuratively — from everywhere.
I turned to the white, gray-haired woman in her plum-colored fleece and Costco sneakers — looking all the world like the star of the next “Karen” video on Twitter. I braced myself for what I assumed would be her pinched disdain for the grime, the chaos — the unfocused, raw wildness of these four blocks that just a few months ago symbolized ground zero for a gentrifying “new Seattle.” A neighborhood where million-dollar condos and cavernous breweries battled it out with the “old Seattle” of non-profit art spaces, low-lit gay bars, and church-basement AA meetings.
I was glad the lower half of my face was covered when I asked her politely, “What did you think of it?”
Seattle University is facing demands from students, faculty and staff to cut ties with the Seattle Police Department (SPD) amid ongoing protests over police violence, White supremacy, and the criminal justice system. The university currently has a relationship through its Department of Public Safety and its Criminal Justice program.
On May 30, a letter signed by over 100 faculty and staff in Seattle University’s College of Arts & Sciences questioned the relationship between Public Safety and SPD. Some Seattle University (also “Seattle U” or “SU”) community members have also spoken up on Twitter and on Instagram — one Tweet calling for the university to end this relationship has received dozens of retweets and over 100 likes.
Born out of a fight against bus service cuts in 2011 the Transit Riders Union (TRU) is an independent, democratic, member-run union of transit riders organizing for mobility and transit justice in Seattle and King County. We recognize that the uprisings sweeping the nation flow from centuries of racial oppression, increasing economic inequality, and years of unheeded calls for reform and restitution. TRU stands with protesters in Seattle, Minneapolis, Louisville and many other communities across the country demanding health, safety, and freedom for Black people in America and demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and countless others killed by the police. Our members have spent the last three weeks using public transportation to travel to the protests. We were horrified to see our public transportation infrastructure being weaponized against the very people it was created to serve.
Ronnie Estoque is a freelance journalist currently working with the International Examiner and the South Seattle Emerald. He is driven to uplift marginalized voices in the South Seattle community through his writing, photography, and videography. You can keep up with his work by following his Twitter account @RonnieEstoque.
Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle