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Capitol Hill Community Post | Open Letter to Mayor Durkan

From a CHS reader

I’m a white man in my 40s, with more privilege than most. I’ve moved to Seattle from college and called both Seattle and Capitol Hill my home for the past 20 years. I came out as a gay man in Seattle, I’ve met my husband of 18 years in Seattle, I started my own small business in Seattle, and I’m proud to call Seattle my home. To say I love this city is an understatement and I’ve never felt such a visceral need to write a letter like this one.

If I were to boil my sentiments into a single question for you, it would be – what the fuck? And I’m not talking about the broader, what-is-the-world-coming-to sense. I’m talking about right here, right now.

Let’s for a second completely ignore the context of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, or the fact that Seattle police systematically brutalizes whole segments of already disadvantaged populations, or the fact that the only incidents of excessive force that surface are the ones that get recorded by the victims themselves. No, let’s just look at the past couple of days. Say, starting this past Monday.

I live near Cal Anderson park on Capitol Hill and was witnessing the scene from my own apartment Monday night that turned into the mayhem of shock grenades and tear gas that billowed into my bedroom. I know for a fact from first hand observation, as well as from the number of videos posted about that moment online, that it was the cops, not the protesters, who began what the police immediately declared a riot.

Even if you believe that people first threw water bottles at the officers, allow me to point out that these are frustrated civilians whereas the officers are supposed to be professionals trained at deescalation. Instead, the cops responded with shots, explosions, and tear gas. I asked this once and I’ll ask it again – what the actual fuck?!?

The next night, last night, was no different and I was there when I witnessed first hand again, how the groups of cops who acted like thugs laden with military-style equipment, were given the green light and released into the neighborhood to test out their new toys against people, and literally terrorize the neighborhood. I actually heard some of them chuckle with glee. Later that night, I saw live video recordings of them turning over dumpsters, ripping umbrellas from people’s hands and destroying them, while chasing after unarmed civilians like a pack of high school bullies hunting rats.

And what do you do? Offer your thoughts and prayers, lock yourself up in your own home and give the go-ahead to allow this to happen the next night again.

What you call policing, I call rioting and active instigation and propagation of violence in my neighborhood. You invaded my home, you invaded my very bedroom, all the while shooting at innocent civilians who are rightly protesting the daily, senseless murder of black men and women at the hands of Seattle police.

What breaks my heart is that the solution here is so simple. Rather than terrorizing us, you should stand with us. Rather than issuing curfews, you should march with us. Rather than erecting barricades, you should be shaking our hands. Seriously, how hard is it to kneel with the protesters when they ask that you join in?

I hope you’re thoroughly ashamed of yourself because I know the rest of Seattle and certainly all of Capitol Hill is. Get off of your high horse and join the people you are supposed to lead and represent, down here on the street. Take our hands and march with us as a symbol of your commitment to the policing reforms that are so desperately needed.

There is absolutely nothing nuanced about this issue. It’s the human thing to do.


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2 thoughts on “Capitol Hill Community Post | Open Letter to Mayor Durkan

  1. You lost me at “the daily, senseless murder of black men and women at the hands of Seattle police.” Daily? Really?

    That hyperbole discounts your entire argument.

    And on the video from Monday night, it looked to me as if a rock and a firework thrown into the police line by a protester was the “first move”

  2. Unlike Jerome, I’m able to look past one hyperbole in a letter written in a very stressful, frightening, threatening time, and see the value and witness in the letter. While deaths may not be daily, threats, terror, and the threat of death IS daily. And ultimately – is the real threat that much better than reality? In my book, an abuser who threatens to hit isn’t any better than the one that actually hits.

    No fewer than 4 of our friend/coworker households were gassed in their Capitol Hill homes by SPD over a two day period. One household included an under 1year old child with asthma. Stay at home orders + cerfew at the request of SPD and they were staying “safe” at home. These households are just some of the additional witnesses of incidents where SPD acted first.

    I’ve reviewed many of the videos taken in which there’s no doubt SPD acted first – or needlessly escalated. Was that every incident? Probably not but it was the vast majority of the videos I’ve reviewed. Was is enough of the instances to indicate that SPD remains deeply troubled and dysfunctional as an organization? Absolutely.

    From multiple sources, I’ve gotten reports of SPD threatening groups videographers on private property to stop filming. We’re working to determine how they got access to the buildings and secure the videos. I’m all too familiar with SPD tactics to illegally gain access to private spaces having to personally back down SPD officers more than once in nearly identical instances.

    The letter writer speaks the truth. One hyperbole doesn’t discredit that person’s experience. What the actual fuck indeed.

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