Mayor Ed Murray may have faced his toughest challenge yet to his controversial $149 million plan to build a new police precinct in north Seattle.
In a heated exchange caught on video with a Block the Bunker activist Tuesday night, Murray said it was a mistake that the city did not use its “racial equity toolkit” to evaluate the project.
“I inherited the proposal and I made mistake about not stopping that proposal,” Murray said of the decision to not analyze the racial implications of building the new precinct. He said the city would conduct the analysis going forward, but nevertheless made a passionate case for why the city needed upgraded police facilities.
Murray’s remarks came during at an event at E Pike’s Sole Repair to raise money for the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Event organizer Alec Connon told CHS the mayor was not planning to attend Tuesday night, but just happened to walk by the event and asked to speak. Towards the end of the mayor’s remarks, the anti-precinct activist named Rashad, who had been scheduled to talk about the precinct, was invited to ask Murray a question about the project.
“Rashad happened to turn up just as the mayor was speaking and so, after talking briefly with Rashad, I made the decision, as the emcee of the event, to invite Rashad to the stage to ask the mayor a couple of questions about the proposed proposed police precinct,” Connon said.
Replacing the crowded North Precinct has been on the city’s agenda for years, but recently was put in the spotlight after its initial $160 million price tag was revealed. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant has joined opposition to the project.
In addition to providing larger facilities, Murray has said a new training center included in the project would be crucial to meeting use of force reforms required by the Department of Justice in its 2012 consent decree.
“We’re not going to be like the south and fight the federal courts,” Murray said.
At the end of the video, Murray told the activist that his universal Pre-K plan was the most important issues the city could undertake to improve the lives of young black men. The mayor was also thanked for his support of the anti-pipeline cause which generated a round of applause before Murray and his entourage left the building.
Tuesday night’s event drew a crowd of around 300 people, according to organizers, and spilled into Cal Anderson later in the night. Organizers said more than $7,000 was raised.