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Administration official says consent decree, police training on table as Durkan faces fifth day of Seattle protests — UPDATE: Mayor addresses protest crowd as thousands again march on Capitol Hill

UPDATE 4:20 PM: Two large crowds of protesters have gathered with one group marching up Capitol Hill while another larger demonstration has settled in around the city’s Emergency Operations Center on 5th Ave just south of Yesler where they have asked for Mayor Jenny Durkan to speak. Durkan was slated for a 4:15 PM news conference with media. Seattle Police and National Guard troops are once again in position across the city and around Capitol Hill’s East Precinct but no curfew has been announced in the city after three nights of restrictions that started Saturday. UPDATE: Another 6 PM to 5 AM curfew has been ordered. The curfew will run 9 PM to 5 AM nightly through Friday night, Chief Best announced at an evening press conference.

UPDATE: 4:30 PM: The press conference has reportedly been delayed so that the mayor can speak with protest organizers. UPDATE x2: “The mayor is currently meeting with organizers outside the Emergency Operations Center,” a spokesperson said. UPDATE x3: Organizer Rashyla Levitt said Durkan and Chief Carmen Best will address the crowd.

UPDATE 5:30 PM: In an unprecedented show of support for the protesters, Durkan and Best took the microphone in front of the the crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the operations center.

“You can’t have all of the conversations in front of a crowd of 7,000 people,” the mayor said as she said she was ready to begin talks with the groups about police reform in Seattle “at 3 o’clock” Wednesday.

In her brief comments, Best asked that protesters let anger over the George Floyd killing “drive you to a positive change” to cheers from the crowd less than 24 hours after the scenes of pepper spray and tear gas from Monday night on Capitol Hill.

But not everything went smoothly. Organizer David Lewis reminded Durkan it took five days of protest to get her to speak. And when organizers asked the mayor to commit to no more tear gas being used by SPD to control crowds, the mayor refused to make a promise she could not keep.

Meanwhile, thousands have again begun gathering on Capitol Hill in and around Cal Anderson Park.

UPDATE 6:30 PM: In an evening press conference, Durkan detailed some of the early initiatives she is hoping to pursue as she begins talks with protest organizers and sets out what she says is a course for local police reform.

The mayor offered up two examples of efforts she hoped to address in the near-term including an effort to revisit policies around turning off officer body cams during protests out of privacy concerns and changing SPD policy so that so-called “mourning bands” used to mark respect for fallen officers do not obscure badge numbers.

The mayor also said she will push forward on larger priorities including increasing support for the Office of Professional Accountability and making sure the Office of Inspector General is fully empowered for “systemic changes.”

“The Seattle Office of Professional Accountability and Office of the Inspector General will be reviewing and auditing SPD’s response to the demonstrations,” she said in a statement later in the night. OPA reviews individual uses of force, OIG reviews the systemic response. They’re independent agencies whose role is to hold law enforcement accountable.”

Finally, the mayor announced a new initiative to “bring together:” the Seattle Police Officers Guild, the Community Policing Commission, and the community together. “We need to have those kinds of meaningful conversations,” she said.

The mayor did not address whether the protests have changed her intentions around her efforts to lift a federal consent decree from SPD. She also did not take up the “#defundSPD” budget demands made by protest organizers.

Exactly who the mayor is working with from the demonstrations is also a question. Tuesday night, the mayor said the protest organizers called the shots. “We did not select them,” the mayor said. “The protesters chose who would come into the room.”

UPDATE 9:20 PM: The Seattle-King County chapter of Black Lives Matter has put out a statement distancing itself from Tuesday’s protest — and the meeting with Durkan. “None of our board members were involved in the meeting today with Mayor Durkan or Cheif Best,” it reads. “We do not know the people who spoke with the Mayor and Chief.”

Durkan said she expects the number of participants and organizations involved in setting a plan for reform to grow. “When we go forward, it’s going to require a lot of different voices to be heard,” she said.

Chief Best used her time at the microphone to say she understands the anger but cannot condone the violence saying the protests have been “different than anything our officers have seen.”

She said the strong response from officers Monday night followed rocks, bottles and “other projectiles” being thrown at the line of police. One officer was struck in face by concrete, and several more sustained injuries, Best said.

She was also critical of the crowd for following a “show of solidarity” — the East Precinct commander knelt at one point along with protesters — with violence against officers.

“Just after this beautiful act, this wonderful act of solidarity, rocks, bottles, and other projectiles were hurled at the officers,” she said.

Meanwhile, the city is again under curfew:

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today signed an Emergency Order to place a temporary citywide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., each night between Tuesday, June 2 through Saturday June 6. During these hours, residents and visitors should remain in their home to the extent possible and should refrain from traveling in and through the entire City of Seattle. The curfew is intended to prevent violence and widespread property damage, and to prevent the further community spread of COVID-19 through continued gathering. The City encourages all residents to sign up for Alert Seattle to receive notifications about the curfew directly to their mobile device.

“Speaking with protesters today and hearing the voices of community, demonstrations can and should safely continue to speak out against injustice. This conversation and social movement must continue,” Durkan said in a statement on the curfew. “At the recommendation of Chief Carmen Best, a curfew is critical that we protect their ability to peacefully protest and we believe this new curfew time will allow us to keep these protesters and the community at large safe.”

Earlier in the night, Durkan and Best defended the use of the curfews as a useful “fall back if needed” given the size and intensity of the protests.

UPDATE 7:45 PM: A crowd of thousands continues to chant and demonstrate on E Pine in the area of the perimeter filled with police, National Guard, and state troopers outside the East Precinct. “Multiple umbrellas in the crowd,” a SPD radio update warned as many in the protest have carried items to help shield their bodies from pepper spray and blast grenades. Meanwhile on 11th Ave, bar owner Diana Adams filled Vermilion with water and supplies for community support of the protest.

With crowds and police on a tense line, Mayor Durkan tweeted a statement on trust and law enforcement. “Trust between law enforcement and community is earned,” she writes. “Every single action with a police officer either adds to or takes away community trust. Right now in Seattle, and in cities across America, we don’t have that trust. But in Seattle we’re committed to rebuilding it.”

Stephens

Original report 11:20 AM: A senior official for the Durkan administration answered questions from Capitol Hill and Seattle area business representatives Tuesday morning about the mayor’s curfews and efforts to address the protests and police clashes that have rocked the neighborhood and the city heading into a fifth day.

Dominique Stephens who handles LGBTQ issues for the mayor’s office said Tuesday that the message from the protests is being heard by Durkan and City Hall and is changing the conversation on bias and policing in Seattle.

A Senior External Relations Liaison for Durkan, Stephens said the mayor’s office is discussing issues around how its police force is trained and reconsidering the timing of its efforts to lift the department from under a restrictive federal consent decree.


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“After four nights of protests, we’re going to have a longer internal process,” Stephens said in the session hosted by the Capitol Hill Business Alliance and its parent organization GSBA.

Earlier this month, Durkan’s City Attorney and the Justice Department began legal proceedings to end a consent decree placing oversight over Seattle Police. The federal consent decree that came out of an eight-month DOJ investigation of Seattle policing released in winter 2011 that revealed troubling findings about the department’s use of force. SPD’s overhaul included a DOJ-approved use of force policy.

Stephens said the mayor and her administration are also already looking into issues around re-examining training and who provides the training of police and how there can there be more accountability in hiring and firing officers.

“I have a lot of questions about what happened on Capitol Hill yesterday,” Stephens said. On a personal note, she said, Stephens said the goal needs to be to “make sure people can continue to peacefully protest and feel like they can continue protesting and not feel like they’re being gated.”

Monday night, a peaceful fourth day of protest in Seattle gave way to a violent clash just after 9 PM as thousands of protesters were leaving Capitol Hill and remaining demonstrators tangled with a wall of police outside the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine. Video and witness accounts describe a melee set off when officers reacted quickly and aggressively to protesters near the front of the police line setting off hours of intense clashes with clouds of gas and explosions.

The discussion with GSBA members Tuesday centered on the Durkan administration’s efforts to address the police force’s actions and what the mayor is doing to address the demands of protesters.

Organizers are calling for the city to “defund” the Seattle Police by cutting half the department’s budget. “The city faces a $300 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19. Seattle City Council should propose and vote for a 50% cut from the $363 million already budgeted for SPD,” a petition on the defunding reads. Groups are also calling for funding affordable housing and “community-based anti-violence” programs as well as demanding the City Attorney’s office not prosecute protestors. The Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County chapter has organized a “Seattle Freedom Fund” for “the immediate release of people protesting the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Manuel Ellis (May 2020)” and “to help future bailout efforts.”

Arrest records obtained and posted (PDF) by Crosscut show that most people who have been arrested so far in Seattle protests are from the city and Washington state. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability says it has received more than 12,000 complaints about SPD’s response to this weekend’s demonstrations. “Our top priority is to quickly but thoroughly review and process these complaints,” a statement from the office reads.

Stephens said Tuesday that with the city’s budget already in turmoil from the COVID-19 crisis, there may be room to address some of the funding questions raised by the groups.

“As a broader community, that is something that can be addressed absolutely,” Stephens said.

“We are looking at the budget as our economics have changed so quickly.”

“As someone who is there, I will raise that question,” she said.

Stephens described a mayor’s office getting very little sleep and handling round the clock communication. “There is tons happening and she is actively working,” Stephens said of Durkan’s schedule when one participant asked why the mayor was not attending.

As for Tuesday, Stephens said she was not yet aware of whether the city would put a curfew in place for the fourth straight night but she did say she would carry feedback from participants in the session to City Hall to ask for more advance notice of the restrictions going forward.

“I don’t know what the rest of the day has in store,” Stephens said.

We’ve asked the mayor’s office for more information on the consent decree, budget, and curfew issues.

Meanwhile, protest activity was already underway by Tuesday morning in the downtown area where a group of a few hundred was reported to be peacefully demonstrating near Benaroya Hall.


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PD
PD
5 months ago

Unless their is a reorganization and de-militarization of the police, none of this matters.

After all this, this much is clear: our police departments need to be COMPLETELY REBUILT FROM THE GROUND UP.

Band-aids will not work. We need to deconstruct and reconstruct the SPD (and depts everywhere) and demilitarize.

Look at the hardware these police deparments have! No wonder city budgets are always strained!

Demilitarization and defunding is the ONLY way forward.

If Durkan is not for this–spoiler: she’s not–then she needs to go.

klobushart
klobushart
5 months ago
Reply to  PD

Durkan needs to step down. Body cameras were turned off to protect the privacy of protestors?! Jokes…

PD
PD
5 months ago
Reply to  PD

I’d love to see what percentage of the city’s budget policing takes up, and more how they are spending this.

Also, I’d love a comprehensive audit of officer overtime, which many game to make a ton of money…though the specifics vary by city and thus contract so…that gets hairy.

I am more than willing to bet money that the actual percentage of the total budget is absurdly high, completely indefensible, and for that reason has been hidden away and good old Mayor Jenny–who is always expressing solidarity with protesters in the hopes of good press, but who is still allowing SPD to do basically whatever they want–is hoping to never be asked the question of how much of the city’s money the SPD eats up.

Let’s defund, because (1.) the SPD is basically a miniature army that sees Seattle as it’s “battleground”, while still being funded by Seattle taxpayers, and (2.) the department is over-funded as is.

Jason Arends
Jason Arends
5 months ago
Reply to  PD

It looks like about $386 million out of a 6 billion dollar budget. BUT, over half of that 6 billion is utilities. source: https://openbudget.seattle.gov/#!/year/2019/operating/0/service/Public+Safety/0/department?vis=barChart

And this doesn’t get into how they’re spending the money they’re allocated. I don’t mind money going to police, I do mind the police using that money to pretend to be an invading army and terrorizing my neighbors.

PD
PD
5 months ago
Reply to  PD

Considering that the SPD is Seattle’s own little army, I find that figure highly dubious.

I’m willing to bet there are a ton of costs being hidden elsewhere.

Nope
Nope
5 months ago

To separate out the looting from the protesting perhaps protest somewhere away from the retail ? If maximum disruption is the plan then feel free to block I5 or I90 since people shouldn’t be traveling anyway…

The Ghost of Capitol Hill
The Ghost of Capitol Hill
5 months ago

Defund the SPD! FUND HUMAN BEINGS! Durkan OUT ASAP!

SpeakingTruth
SpeakingTruth
5 months ago

Defund offices that are Liaisons between communities. What a bunch of self-serving political grandstanding they are. I would much rather have my taxes paying for street maintenance and police, than Ms. Stephens and her counterparts who would not be missed if their jobs were ended. Everyone is part of our community and this balkanization on taxpayer dollars is a bottomless pit of self-indulgence that we can ill-afford when revenues are plummeting. Add to the mix the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. We were all immigrants once, and likely those who came here before such lofty times as this, did just fine without a city office paid to do gosh knows what.

Given the reality of our streets, the last thing I want to see cut is the police force. I would prefer to see a lot more law enforcement, starting with trespass, theft, shoplifting, and serious drug dealing that enables the former.

Jon
Jon
5 months ago

Overall, I am very appreciative of the job Seattle Police does. I’m the son of a police officer, so I know what a difficult job it is.

Our problem in Seattle is too little policing. Civil order is a prerequisite for businesses to thrive, and therefore, jobs. A lack of criminal policing and order harms everyone, particularly the low income communities.

DS
DS
5 months ago
Reply to  Jon

How dare you speak sensibly. Prepare to be roundly attacked.

Also, it does no good to arrest when the prosecutor won’t do his job and prosecute. He said publicly that his sister had a drug problem and that changed his mind about prosecuting crime.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
5 months ago
Reply to  Jon

Agree. You are only in favor of “defunding the police” until you need them and no one shows up.

GG Palin
GG Palin
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Knudson

“defund” does not mean abolish. I would like to work towards a world where the latter is possible, but presently we’re simply saying we don’t need an occupying force with military grade hardware beating in the faces of peaceful protestors with JUSTIFIED demands. Stop trying to prevent Seattle from being a better place. Your views are old and tired, and you just want the police to protect you from hearing things that make you uncomfortable. Suck it up and learn to be a human like the rest of us, bob.

AJS
AJS
5 months ago

She had four days to come up with a response. I was cautiously optimistic to hear her response.

The best she could come up, though, with was “maybe I can get the police to stop covering their badges, eventually.”

A symbolic, bare-minimum concession? After FOUR DAYS with no attempt to speak to the protesters? It wasn’t enough then, and it’s definitely not enough now. She had an opportunity to make a real concession, a real peace offering, and she gave us nothing. When the crowd pressed her to promise not to use tear gas on her own citizens, she refused.

Mayor Durkan needs to resign.

Alocal
Alocal
5 months ago
Reply to  AJS

If they start rioting and looting what are the police going to do ? Wave at the protestors ?

Tear gas is probably the most effective tool they have for dispersal before one of them snaps and starts shooting after hours of posturing.

We could maybe save up for a used water cannon for next year.

Carrie
Carrie
5 months ago
Reply to  Alocal

Tear gas is a chemical weapon that is banned from use in war. It should not be deployed as a first or even second resort, and the ACLU advises against it. The police have a number of other de-escalation tools at their disposal. And by all reports the number of people actually causing the destruction is small, so police in their riot gear could actually, you know, walk over and detain them. If you were watching the coverage on tv, you would have seen them using it on peaceful protesters, as well. Not to mention that tear gas always hits everyone in the vicinity, not just the rioters.

E. Harvey
E. Harvey
5 months ago
Reply to  AJS

I’m away from my home because I was tear-gassed for the crime of sitting in my living room in an older building. I kept curfew, I wasn’t looting, I was in my own house, a building where infants and elderly and people with disabilities live. I could barely breathe. This happened during WTO in 1999 to Capitol Hill residents and it’s happening again. The ALCU did an investigation then and found misconduct, and here we are again. What kind of person do I have to be for this to change?

Tom
Tom
5 months ago

The only way to get accountabilty is if cops have to pay for the monetary damages from their misconduct themselves.

caphiller
caphiller
5 months ago

It’s a shame the protest leaders are asking for SPD budget to be cut in half. If they had a reasonable request, or something that would help solve our problems, I think a lot more people would take them seriously. It’s a lost opportunity, bc they are on the right side and I sincerely hope we are able to make real reforms.

Lace
Lace
5 months ago
Reply to  caphiller

I think looking at what other cultures have done and have had some success would make sense. Antisemitism hasn’t gone away for example, but it’s nothing like it was in the past 1000 years.

Mimi
Mimi
5 months ago

Please report more about the claims for BLM leaders that they do not know the people who met with Durkan. What is going on there?

internet tendency
5 months ago

As McSweeney’s so eloquently put it, “I am your progressive mayor and I think we need to cut our roving death squads a bit of slack.”

Marxism Sux
Marxism Sux
5 months ago

ANTIFA, Sawant, Morales…you guys can all kiss my ass. Love Carmen Best. We need more people like her.

Simon Kowtow
Simon Kowtow
5 months ago
Reply to  Marxism Sux

Congratulations! You just earned a spot on America’s Top Bootlicker! Here’s you chance to show the country how low you will go to sell out your neighbors in order to uphold white supremacy & corporate interests! Here is your chance to shine, don’t waste it on those that need it, America’s oligarchs need your complete submission, all of Madison Valley will be rooting for you!

GG Palin
GG Palin
5 months ago
Reply to  Marxism Sux

Hey what gives! I called Marxism Sux a bootlicker first, but my comment disappeared somehow! My comment just said, “bootlicker”, because I thought brevity was the soul of wit…but after considering my actions, I suppose I could have encouraged more discourse through creating a constructive dialogue about his fetish for the taste of polished leather…

GG Palin
GG Palin
5 months ago
Reply to  GG Palin

*Or her’s*….not trying to misgender!

Ltfd
Ltfd
5 months ago
Reply to  GG Palin

Defund the homeless-industrial complex now. Use those funds for schools, street maintenance & public safety.

Fairly Obvious
Fairly Obvious
5 months ago
Reply to  GG Palin

Defund the homeless-industrial complex now.

The idea of a “homeless-industrial complex” is something that gets tossed around fringe websites so that anti-homeless (read: not anti-homelessness) people can blame some imaginative entity rather than themselves for the continuing crisis.

Whenever I see someone comments about the “homeless-industrial complex”, it signals that they have nothing of substance to offer to the conversation (whether on purpose or due to ignorance) and should instead be met with immediate and total ridicule.

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5 months ago

What exactly was Brexit? Did people want it or not?
Brexit hasn’t happened yet, and probably never will in the form that enthusiasts want it to.
It’s the British exit from the European Union. There was a vote on the issue
and 52% of those who voted said they wanted Britain to leave the European Union. The referendum was advisory, but politicians felt that they had little choice but to agree to leave the European Union.
Many people didn’t vote. A huge number of Britons live
in mainland Europe and find it very difficult to vote on anything.
Needless to say, many of these non voters were very happy with the freedom of movement in Europe.
Many people were unhappy with life in Britain. Poverty was increasing due
to the government’s austerity policies: Tax breaks for the rich people who hadn’t taken their
money offshore, and cuts to benefits which many
people relied on to supplement their meagre wages. All of this stemmed
from a banking crisis in which taxpayers had been forced to bail out banks.

The bankers had crashed the economy in the name of the free market, knowing that the state would
be a safety net for them. At the same time, immigration had been high
for a long time, and the spate of wars in Africa and
the Middle East had led to a refugee crisis. In addition to this, the European Union had expanded to
include poorer Eastern European countries whose citizens gained
the right to travel and work in other European countries, including Britain.
The European Union is a trading club, and every full member gets
to vote on the rules. Trade moves freely, as do people.
Other countries outside it, such as Norway, Iceland, Serbia, Bosnia, Albania etc.
can agree to trade with it , but they cannot change
the rules. Since Britain joined the EU, most other European countries have also joined.

People can get nostalgic about the 1970’s, but we cannot go back to the trade
situation of the 1970’s without pursuading the other European countries we used to trade with to leave the EU too.

Leaving the EU means agreeing trade deals with the rest of the world, but the EU has got
there first. Even British people who utterly despise the EU
are better off changing it from within than sitting outside it where they will
still suffer from its policies, but be unable to change them.
The EU will suffer if Britain leaves, but the majority
of Economists believe the consequences will be worse for Britain. Much of the British press had been critical of the European Union for a long time.
Many British people began to feel that their problems were due to immigrants
and the immigrants were the fault of the European Union, even though Britain had had considerable immigration in the 1960’s
before it joined the European Union, and other EU countries did not have austerity policies.
The middle classes were becoming poorer and being encouraged to believe
that people poorer than them, immigrants were to blame, and that immigration would be reduced
if we left the EU. Who was encouraging them to think like this?
A variety of groups. Rich financiers like Nigel Farage, the right
wing of the Conservative party. The Far right. Farmers and Fishermen had long been critical
of the European Union, which, to be fair, had made mistakes in these
areas of policy. However promises about extra money for the National Health
Service made by politicians who had long opposed the very idea of the NHS should have rung hollow.
Another claim was that we could be like Norway, a small oil rich country, with
a high standard of welfare, democratic socialism and extremely high taxes, a claim again made by wealthy right wing politicians
who clearly never had any such plans for the UK.
Norway is outside the EU, but it is linked to the EU, by treaties
and trade agreements, and like Switzerland and Iceland, it is
effectively in the EU trading block.
The “vote leave” campaign was extremely slick and well funded.
Illegally over funded in fact, in a number of cases with foreign money.
A huge sum of money from Saudi Arabia was paid to the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party who passed
it on to the leave campaign. It is also becoming very clear that
many of the anti-EU groups across Europe had strong Russian support (most of these
are strongly right wing parties, for example ATAKA
in Bulgaria, whose long standing hatred of Turkish people suddenly and mysteriously moderated
when Putin and Erdowan became allies). The Leave campaign coincided
with a spate of online racist scaremongering about immigrants, including many fake
news stories, now known to have originated from Government sponsored
“troll farms” in Russia. This last point is still being debated: How much of this fake news was politically motivated?
how much was simply intended to sell advertising?

how much did it change people’s minds? how much of it was intended to influence
the American elections and how much was intended to influence the Brexit vote?
It also became apparent that facebook was a very effective propaganda tool,
allowing targeted messages to reach people most likely
to be influenced by them. I have a number of Russian and
Russian speaking friends and contacts on Facebook,
and I have very little doubt now that a huge amount of racist propaganda is coming from Russia.
I read it in Cyrillic first, a few days later in English.
My suspicion is that while many people in Britain believed that leaving the EU would be good for Britain, political forces outside of Britain were encouraging the leave voters precisely because they knew that it
would leave Britain economically and politically weaker.