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#defundSPD: Going it alone, Sawant to unveil her proposal for immediate 50% cut to Seattle Police budget — UPDATE

Sawant at a Juneteenth Black Lives Matter march

Seven of Seattle’s nine City Council members have pledged their support for the demands to #defundSPD part of the city’s weeks of Black Lives Matter protests community rallies.

But none have presented a specific plan for cutting SPD’s current 2020 budget while moving the funding to other departments and to fund social and community programs — until now.

Kshama Sawant, the District 3 council member representing Capitol Hill and the Central District at CIty Hall, will go it alone and unveil her unilateral proposal Thursday morning for a 50% cut to SPD.

Sawant’s office says the representative, chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, will formally introduce new amendments at Friday’s council budget committee meeting that would cut tens of millions from SPD’s remaining 2020 budget.

“The amendments incorporate the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands that the remaining 2020 Seattle Police budget be cut by 50%, with those funds invested in Black and Brown working-class communities,” the announcement reads.

Sawant previewed her plan earlier this week at a rally on Capitol Hill:

At the rally on Tuesday, Councilmember Sawant provided fliers detailing a proposed $85 million budget cut to SPD for the remainder of 2020, of which $20 million would go toward affordable housing, $3 million toward community-based organizations, $700,000 toward renter organizing and eviction defence, $80,000 toward restored funding of the Green New Deal Oversight board, and a transfer of 911 call center funds out of the SPD.

UPDATE: Sawant has posted an overview of her proposal with high level details of where the cuts would come from. The cuts she will propose would come from “across-the-board reductions on patrols and other operations” and “entirely” eliminating the SPD Navigation Team responsible for clearing homeless encampments:

Sawant’s presentation does not specify what impact the reduced patrols and eliminated NAV Team would have on SPD employees and any possible layoffs.

In her press conference, Sawant said as a socialist, she is opposed to layoffs in the city. But she repeated her point that the city is already readying job cuts across its departments and that the city’s police force should not be separate from those sacrifices.

Sawant also presented a table of programs that would receive portions of the SPD cost savings.

Sawant’s $85 million target is based on estimates of remaining funding left in SPD’s 2020 budget after weeks of debate and examination of the ways in which the departments spends its cash as City Hall looks to streamline its budget for expected shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

Some large line items that have emerged so far in the council’s process included reducing overtime expenses for officers by $8.6 million with fewer special events and emphasis patrols to staff. The city also can save $4 million by putting the department’s North Precinct project on hold, $3.1 million by reducing the expected wage increase for officers, and over $4 million in reduced equipment and personnel expenses.

More significant changes to SPD spending will likely take much longer. The Decriminalize Seattle group and the King County Equity Now Coalition unveiled a four-point plan that activists says would best reallocate money currently spent on patrol officers for community needs including major changes to how Seattle’s 911 system works and social initiatives including housing — changes that could lead to #defundSPD’s greater goals in the long run but not in 2020.

Sawant’s proposals would put her on yet another collision course with Mayor Jenny Durkan who has said a full 50% cut to SPD starting this year would be dangerous for the city and impossible under the current contract with the police union.

In late June, Sawant marched with hundreds and held a #defundSPD rally in front of Durkan’s Northeast Seattle home —

“We demand action now,” Sawant said. “Because the delaying tactic that is often used by big business type political establishment is far too common under capitalism. They tell the movement, we will get what we want later. Let’s have more studies, stakeholder groups, presentations by experts. Let’s do it right. Let’s not be hasty like those impetuous socialists.”

Durkan is focusing on a plan for $76 million in cuts to SPD in 2021 — about a third of the #defundSPD 50% goal. Durkan said the plan would call for $56 million of that cut coming from moving the 911 call center out of SPD as well as moving parking enforcement to the Seattle Department of Transportation. The city’s Office of Emergency Management and the Office of Police Accountability, the department’s oversight body, would also be moved to civilian control as part of the $56 million transfer.

If the council votes to approve a major, immediate slash of SPD’s budget, Durkan said two weeks ago, she will fight. “I will veto it,” the mayor said. “We want to work with council for a responsible process to do this.”

Sawant’s office has said the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild is not a barrier. “Many City Councilmembers claim that the City Council cannot legally cut the SPD budget without getting agreement from the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG), that it needs to be bargained with SPOG, and that will take time,” an update to Sawant’s Facebook page reads —

First of all, this is simply not true! More importantly, we have seen in every recession, the political establishment has thrust the burden of capitalism’s crisis on public sector unionized workers who provide vital services to our most marginalized, making brutal cuts and forcing workers to accept mandatory furloughs and layoffs. They are getting ready to do that in this recession as well – brutal cuts are coming. What politicians will cut and won’t is all about political will. When they cut vital services by laying workers off, they don’t say “it will take time,” they say “it needs to be done right now.” Defunding SPD is not a budget cut to put a recession’s burden on workers. It is about addressing gross injustices. Our movement says cut the police budget by 50% now. But as always, whether or not we win depends on how strong our movement is compared to the political establishment.

It’s not yet known what if any support Sawant has for her proposals from her colleagues on the council. No other council members are scheduled to be part of Thursday’s announcement. In her press release, Sawant called on her fellow council members who have expressed #defundSPD support to join her in pushing for the 50% cut and “follow through on their public commitments by supporting and voting for her budget amendments.”

The King County Equity Now Coalition is calling for public support for the overall #defundSPD effort but has not specifically endorsed a plan.

The council’s budget committee is scheduled to review SPD budget amendments to the 2020 budget on Friday and vote on the amendments next Wednesday, August 5th. The full City Council is scheduled to vote on the revised budget on Monday, August 10th.

UPDATE 8/3/2020 9:30 AM: The budget committee is meeting Monday morning for a session focused on proposed amendments related to SPD in the rebalancing package. Here is the full, 79-page roster of proposals including the items being brought to the council for a full 50% reduction by Sawant:

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46 thoughts on “#defundSPD: Going it alone, Sawant to unveil her proposal for immediate 50% cut to Seattle Police budget — UPDATE

  1. As someone who voted for her twice, I was disgusted by her behavior during CHOP. She didn’t have any concerns for those of us living here and the terror and lawlessness we were experiencing. I suppose we were just sacrificial lambs for her “movement’ and our right to live safely (during a pandemic no less) is the price to be paid to achieve her goals. I also think she abused her power by opening up City Hall and conducting a protest (again during the pandemic in an indoor setting, without masks) which undoubtedly contributed to the virus spreading in our community.

    I will vote for ANYONE who runs against her.

    • Her movement is creating affordable housing to benefit the most vulnerable in our city, and making corporations pay their fair share in taxes to fund it…why are you crying so much? These are humanist policies and are 100% necessary.

      Blame every single person (including many cops) who continue to not wear masks, continuing to exacerbate this pandemic right into wave 2, which is on the horizon.

      • Pretty sexist of you to attribute my opinions to “crying”. Not surprised at all as the “woke” seem to perpetuate many old tropes of oppression. Good work!

        And for the record, many of us who live in the CHOP area fall into those vulnerable groups she thinks she is fighting for and she abandoned us during CHOP and allowed us to be terrorized. That is what happened.

      • This issue is that while she has done a great job identifying the injustices and inequities in our society, she is suggesting policy changes that either will not work or will exacerbate the problems we face. This is has been the problem with Marxist thought since the beginning. It all starts with great appeal — hearts in the right place, wanting the right thing for society. Inevitably, however, it ends by filling pits with bodies or dropping people into the Pacific from helicopters.

        Find out who said this, and we can resume the conversation:
        “Our policy was to provide an affluent life for the people. There were mistakes made in carrying it out.”

      • You are so naive Momo. You said “making corporations pay their fair share in taxes to fund it”. This means “making PEOPLE who work at the corporations pay MORE than their fair share, to pay for people who choose not to work (because they are lazy and don’t want to work as hard as others, or drug or alcohol addicts) and pay their own fair share“ I think I will quit my job in the suburbs, and move to Seattle where I can get stuff for free, off of everyone else’s backs. And I’m sure there will be more….”come to Seattle where we give you everything for free!” And the workers and rich and corporations will leave….and then what.

      • Oh, kindly knock it off. For weeks we’ve had to hear about how cruel and selfish the soccer moms and dads were because the had the audacity to protest to reopen their businesses, return to their jobs, or return to something vaguely resembling normalcy. You don’t get to have it both ways.

        For two months now people have been assembling by the hundreds if not the thousands. In many cases people are *not* wearing masks, and are not only content to stand well within each others’ personal space, but also frequently to the protest into a riot, thereby spreading the virus and actively destroying the communities in the process, something neither the Reopen Protestors or even the 2nd Amendment Protestors in Virginia even came close to doing.

        Also, the cops wouldn’t have to be there in such numbers if your hammer & sickle flag-waving buddies would stop committing violence. Why is this so difficult for you to understand? Stop burning things. Stop attacking people. If you can manage that, the police will have no reason to be there.

    • I don’t believe you ever voted for Sawant or that you even live here. If you think adding that you previously voted for Sawant and now regret it adds some sort of authenticity to your comment it doesn’t, in fact it does the opposite.

      • I find it funny how people like maya assume anti-Sawant voices must be from people who do not “live here.” Do you live here maya? Do you speak for the community? Does Sawant? Some of us see an ally and some of us see a demagogue, but we all live here.

      • I know plenty of people who voted for her who live in D3. I don’t believe you live here, so what’s your point?

      • You don’t have to live in Seattle or even the United States to know how utterly deranged “CHAZ” and “defunding the police” are.

    • I have to agree that I felt abandoned by Kshama Sawant during the CHOP occupation. Mind you, I live in a low income community in the former CHOP. Through my window, I could hear her yelling in Cal Anderson park about revolutions while at night time, it was every person for themselves. I feel a personal insult to the small business owners on my street who Kshama Sawant neglected during times of need.

      For a while, I wasn’t worried about having a radical socialist like her in my neighborhood. But now, her actions have made me become very anti-Kshama Sawant. I am against her and I will fight back until she hears me. She is awakening the sleeping giants of Capitol Hill and I don’t care whether or not she is ready for this reckoning. The counter-revolution is organizing, my dears. Nobody cares what side of history you are on.

      • “The counter-revolution is organizing, my dears. Nobody cares what side of history you are on.”

        Ummm, what?

        Dear whiners: Kshama isn’t perfect but she’s done a lot more good than bad. Way more. She is not perfect. Far from it. However, only entitled, privileged people, profiteers of gentrification and ignoramuses would disagree. Please.

    • I also voted for Kshama twice and I also felt abandoned by her during the CHOP situation. I emailed her and called her many times asking her to not use the CHOP situation to push her longer term agenda even though I agree with all of it. It wasn’t the moment. People were suffering and it was not the time. I do not believe I will vote for her again.

    • The Anti-Sawant troll starter pack:

      Blame her for everything and anything that bothers you about Seattle

      Call her supporters ‘minions’ even though the majority of actual D3 residents voted her into office

      Compare her supporters with Trump supporters (again this is the majority of D3 voters)

      Claim you voted for her but now regret it


      • I dislike her, specifically. The people who support her have their reasons for doing so.

        I object to the fact that she ignores the northern half of her district and we have to go to someone else to get the city to take care of problems that are supposed to be her job. She won’t even reply to messages or calls if you’re not one of her pet projects.

        Is it too much to ask that a district representative do her job? If she wants to run for national or state office, that’s fine. In the meantime, we have potholes to fix, as banal and non-life-changing as that is.

      • Word.

        These Kshama-haters are Seattle’s worst residents (if they even live here).

        We voted her in TWICE and we’ll do it again.

        Shameful AND shameless fools.

        So selfish. And stupid. #Deplorables

        PS- don’t forget their hammer/sickle/communism bullshit scare tactics.

      • “I object to the fact that she ignores the northern half of her district and we have to go to someone else to get the city to take care of problems that are supposed to be her job”

        I’m super interested in learning what these norther half problems are and also who ya’ll go to! Please share!

    • Looking forward to her declaring everyone who didn’t back her 100% with her short-sighted home-baked plan as the enemy and part of the regime that needs to be destroyed.

  2. “They tell the movement, we will get what we want later. Let’s have more studies, stakeholder groups, presentations by experts. Let’s do it right. Let’s not be hasty like those impetuous socialists.”

    Umm..yeah…let’s take drastic actions without knowing if they’ll have the intended effect or not. That’s exactly the smart way to do things.

    • This was my thought exactly. As if she has any expertise on anything beyond protesting. She knows nothing about the ramifications of her policy decisions. It’s all grandstanding.

    • Lordy. You sloth-y droids are exactly why the USA is in decline and is especially increasingly brutal on the middle and lower income populations here. There is a plan. There will still be cops. Less of them, but better trained and managed. They can and should deal with VIOLENT crimes and violent crimes only. Other programs and public safety organizations will address the rest. This is already in practice in Eugene, parts of Canada, Europe, Australia, etc. WAKE UP, instead of pretending to be experts who are just paranoid people who are sheltered in your myopic, uninformed groupthink.

  3. The rest of the council SAYS they want to defund SPD, but as usual they’re hoping that the issue can be kicked down the road until some indeterminate future.

    There’s always an excuse to delay progress: whether it’s the call for “statewide solutions” or COVID or Durkan’s arbitrary barriers, the council will always look for a way to appear progressive while stepping on anyone’s toes–i.e. do nothing–and I think that Sawant is forcing an honest vote on a matter that voters are demanding be brought to the table.

    While I respect the intentions of Decrim, they’ve ultimately been misled by the excuses coming from the rest of the council. In 6 months we’ll get another excuse, and then another and another until the movement loses steam and is resigned to make major concessions.

  4. So, what’s the plan here? Which new agencies are going to be created? How many more City employees will be needed to administer such change? Unions? Who will be held accountable for decisions and, perhaps, the failures? Where is the community input in the rewriting of the social contract?

    Yet, any meaningful changes to zoning and regulations to help create new, affordable housing remains unaddressed.

  5. The conservative commenters on this site don’t seem to realize that every single Trump budget proposal has also cut funding for the police, including in February when he proposed a 58% cut to the COPS Hiring Program, a federal program that supports police department staffing. So Republicans can mock Democrats all they want, but you guys should look at your own side’s efforts to defund the police.

    Meanwhile, Democrats are trying to give way more money to state and local governments via the HEROS Act, and that would help states who want to increase their police budgets do so, while states like Washington that want to divert funds to alternative social welfare programs would also be able to do so. Without this money, cuts to police departments will be inevitable, and the Republicans in Congress are fine with that.

    • This is a local decision with a city population of close to 650,000 people, who depend on the police during times of trouble, defenders better wake up and start thinking about the consequences. Do they want all of Seattle to devolve into CHOP. Evidently Sawant and other council members are ignorant of human nature. You would think they would learn something from the decay our city has experienced and allowed to happen in the past 6 years. Unreal.
      but too real!

      • Wow. You don’t live here. Seattle’s population hasn’t been 650,000 for 7 or 8 years. And everyone knows it. Except, maybe, one who lives under a rock- or doesn’t live here at all. Try a simple Bing or google search ;-) And, NEWSFLASH: Seattle is now considered to be one of the most succesful and most competitive cities on the planet now. Do we have growing pains, gentrification problems and management issues? Yup! However, i suspect you also hate folks such as Kshama who are leading the charge to address those critical issues (that are steeped in the middle-USA status quo that allows the oligarchy to further run up the inequality quotient). #duh

  6. Yet another proposal from our “grandstander-in-chief.” Sawant’s arrogance and narcissism is just as bad as Trump’s.

    Eliminating the Navigation Team will only result in more homeless camps on our streets and other public places, and our once-fair city will be degraded even more. And it would eliminate any chance of getting homeless people into transitional or permanent housing.

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  8. As much as I want to defund the police to an even greater degree, I have no faith in Sawant. She’s done everything she can to make the BLM protests about her and her socialist movement.

    I dislike durkan intensely, but I’m more likely to believe her than sawant. This has the smell of another of her half-baked ideas that ends up costing the city millions in legal fees and awards when the police union sues the city for breach of contract. Her tendency to use our tax money to draw media attention to her non-city platform is infuriating.

  9. I really don’t see any direct reports of her mentioning how she would create social programs such as workers and counselors to replace areas of the police force they are defunding. What are the protocols and measures that will be in place to transfer the work assignments such as domestic violence Response in which they are defunding the police and transferring towards social services? What are the practices and procedures to be followed for people taking in this work? What funding will be used to help those homeless with mental problems off the street? Affordable housing is just a building but not an instilled social program to help people move off the streets Or help with mental problems. The only thing I See is three million towards community based programs in which I am not sure is meant to replace the work in which they are defunding the police. The support they give just can’t disappear and be dropped over night. If you drop the 86 million just like that THIS year without any replacement there may be some chaos. It should be a step transfer. In some cases some social workers to help with abused kids or mental area do truly feel endangered as well. The way the council is handling this is not a win win. Also the other measures to help with eviction from covid and the environment have nothing to do with social programs. Yes maybe needed but that should Not come from police defunding as this Is to reform in support of black lives matter. Covid should be supported under mosqueDa plan which seems to grow in budgets needs by the week and environmental is another topic on its own . Also l feel she really is using protesters to push more in her agenda and not thinking about the community as whole from the small business owners to the people that are seeking change. This money they should going to improve areas of social programs should not be going toward what she is proposing as they should be going under mosquedas sad plan as well

  10. Sawant attacks companies like Amazon while living in a million dollar home. Just like most socialist countries like Cuba, Russia and Venezuela, the leaders of the socialist party live in mansions while the poor continue to live in poverty. Her policies are all self serving and if you don’t believe in her socialist agenda, she doesn’t care about your opinions or problems.

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