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Demonstrators take their message to Chief Best’s home as Seattle City Council looks at smaller 2020 cuts to start process of #defundSPD

A demonstrator from a march this summer that targeted Mayor Durkan’s home

As the Seattle City Council sifts through dozens of piecemeal #defundSPD proposals this week, District 3’s Kshama Sawant has been dealt several early blows in the debate while an activist strategy of targeting the homes of public officials caused a stir Saturday as demonstrators tried to bring their message to SPD Chief Carmen Best’s neighborhood in a “quaint residential community in unincorporated Snohomish County.”

Here’s how the Lynnwood Times described the Saturday night scene:

A crowd of about 200 persons, mostly white men and women in their twenties, were dressed in black with masks and black hoods and carried signs that read “Black Lives Matter.” Black Lives Matter protestors shouted profanity and insults at neighbors, took license plate information on vehicles, took pictures of homes, and asked little kids who lived in the neighborhood what schools they attended.

The arrival of Black Lives Matter on Best’s rural Snohomish County home turf comes as the summer’s debate over how much and how quickly to defund the Seattle Police Department is coming to a head.

“These direct actions against elected officials, and especially civil servants like myself, are out of line with and go against every democratic principle that guides our nation,” Chief Best wrote in a public letter calling on the city council to denounce the protest strategy. “Before this devolves into the new way of doing business by mob rule here in Seattle, and across the nation, elected officials like you must forcefully call for the end of these tactics.”

The demonstration has been part of several Black Lives Matter and #defundSPD actions in recent weeks targeting the home of public officials including one this weekend at the home of budget chair Teresa Mosqueda.

In late June, Sawant marched with hundreds and held a #defundSPD rally in front of Durkan’s Northeast Seattle home setting off a new front in her ongoing war with the mayor. Council president M. Lorena González said she would not pursue Durkan’s demands that Sawant be investigated over the protest.

The Black Lives Matter movement has deployed the strategy before. In 2016, CHS reported on an August BLM demonstration making a long stop outside then-Mayor Ed Murray’s North Capitol Hill home. Activists opposing construction of a new youth jail returned to the street for another demonstration in December of that year.

Meanwhile, small protests against SPD violence and inequity have continued on Capitol Hill with the “Everyday Protest March” meeting nightly outside the boarded-up Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church on Harvard Ave to march for Black Lives Matter causes.

The Decriminalize Seattle group and the King County Equity Now Coalition unveiled a four-point plan that activists say 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.

Monday, the city council’s budget committee was finishing its run-through of dozens of proposed line item cuts and changes to the department that need to be in place by next Monday, August 10th’s final vote on rebalancing the city’s 2020 budget.

Last week, CHS reported on Sawant’s step forward as the only city council member to present proposals that would achieve the demands of protesters and community groups for a 50% cut to SPD starting immediately with the remaining 2020 budget.

While a majority of the council has said they support the long-term goal of cutting the department’s annual $409 million budget by 50%, their proposals being presented and considered this week would not come anywhere close to an immediate halving.

Sawan’ts proposals would require massive and immediate layoffs for SPD. Monday, the council heard from City Hall staff who said that SPD’s 2020 depletion of funds on overtime and protest service leaves the department with a remaining budget dedicated primarily to salaries. That spend down combined with current labor agreements create what is ostensibly a three-month window to achieve any savings: To save $3 million this year, the city would have to provide immediate layoff notices to nearly 200 officers starting this weekend.

To reach Sawant’s $86 million goal in the remaining months of 2020, you would have to send a notice to every sworn officer right away, one staffer told the budget committee Monday.

While the positioning make it even more unlikely that Sawant’s proposals will attract support from her fellow council members, the council did seem likely to find line items for immediate cuts including reduction in SWAT spending and cuts to the Navigation Team responsible for sweeping encampments.

Mayor Durkan, meanwhile, has focused 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.

Here is the full, 79-page roster of city council proposals including the items being brought to the council for a full 50% reduction by Sawant:

The budget committee will meet again Wednesday to vote on the amendments and finish its proposal for rebalancing the 2020 budget before Monday, August 10th’s final vote.

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16 thoughts on “Demonstrators take their message to Chief Best’s home as Seattle City Council looks at smaller 2020 cuts to start process of #defundSPD

    • Her letter stated ‘a residence of mine’ which seems to imply that perhaps she has more than one. Whether one of them is in the City limits of Seattle, who knows. But it’s possible that she does own property/does/did live in the City.

    • Where have you been? It’s been talked about for over a decade that most Seattle police members don’t live here. And the last I knew, that was not a criteria for qualification.

  1. As a voter, I frequently wish that I had better choices. At the same time, I wonder who would want to be an elected official? I understand the desire to represent people and try to make the system work more equitably. But the problems are vast and the ability to please more than 51% is slim. And now that “protestors” are deciding that it’s just fine to take their actions to the homes where these officials live, I think it’s more than likely that any really qualified individual who is considering a run for public office will now think of something else to do. Great. Thanks.

  2. Ad hominem “protests” like this are complete bullshit. You have a gripe with the mayor, city council or chief of police? Show up at city hall – that’s the appropriate forum for civil discourse. I don’t know if the people on Saturday saw this as an intimidation tactic, but it was. If it were armed, white men “demonstrating” their 2nd Amendment rights in front of the Sawant or Mosqueda residents, I wonder how they (or their neighbors) would feel? Action like this are are counter productive in too many ways to count.

    • Yea, in your example one of the blaring differences is the LACK of guns being carried by white men – we all know how that is incessantly dealt with as if it’s a pinky party in the park when that happens…not that I find this tactic, on either side, helpful in the end. That includes it becoming an occupation for the rest of us citizens. We gotta change the voting systems so we have excellent, not horrible, choices come election time each round so the people are represented vs the elite.

      • It’s not about who decides to run. It’s about who can get through the fiercely ideological district Democratic clubs which have, almost uniformly, become quite a bit more leftist than they were when I first began to participate. You could have a wise and brilliant person, capable of driving change and legislating with heart and integrity, and if they don’t please certain someone’s with their politics, they are toast. It’s not the candidates, it’s the gatekeepers.

  3. She is not required to live in Seattle. And given her visibility her decision to be farther away is likely a wise decision. Her blackness is clearly a problem for the preferred narrative that these white black clad and hooded (shades of Klan here?) might prefer. 120,000 and counting have signed a petition opposing the defunding in the past week. I suspect this massively exceeds those who’d sign on to defund.

    Personally I’d double down on sweeps and tolerance of vagrants as a preventive measure to see the 60% or so who came to the region due to lax policies. If they would leave and take their thievery, graffiti, needles, threats and garbage elsewhere, the efforts would quickly self-fund and civility might begin to return. Not to mention questionable votes by those who can move on a dime, register and vote at the same moment, and stuff boxes by well organized supporters of our favorite Socialist.

    We have seen up close and personal what no police mean and it is not a pretty picture. Improvement is always needed but hating our neighbors, sight indeed, who are cops is beyond wrong.

    Defund the Seattle City Council. Rise up people. Show your voice. They do not represent us.

    • You’re right about people relocating here due to lax policies and they are the tech companies who set up shop here due to lax TAX policies which caused the housing crisis. But it’s ok, we did show up. We did vote and our Council members are making important changes that the majority of voters support because they do represent us. That’s how democracy works.

      There was no fraud in the last election and suggesting there was is completely delusional as is suggesting BLM protesters are similar to the KKK . I know mynorthwest shut their comment section down but find some other website to peddle your right wing bullshit.

  4. Yeah I don’t quite understand this type of protest. Considering she’s the chief of police, wouldn’t it be weird if she wasn’t a police advocate? And going to her home is obviously an intimidation tactic.

    You’ve got Spek saying that these protestors were met illegally with armed vigilantes. But he doesn’t seem to think CHOP security forces qualify as “armed vigilantes”. All of this has nothing to do with BLM and it’s gross.

  5. Elected officials are not in working their public spaces. Public meetings are not in the public spaces. Marching to an empty City Hall would be an unsatisfactory expression of protest. Under the current conditions, it seems predictable that eventually marchers would go to the homes of electeds and others with power. Their homes are their places of work. The wisest have come out to speak to the protesters. Remember it is illegal to to threaten anyone, especially an elected official, with physical harm. Trespassing is also illegal and likely a trespasser would be arrested. We all get to protest from the street and sidewalk, and I would not want that to change. in case someone is wondering, I know Best is not elected. Many of the these protesters were raised in these quiet neighborhoods that never have seen protests and feel quite free to come to Capitol Hill and the CD to protest, not thinking that people live here too. From some of the headlines, I wonder if any of these neighborhoods could possibly distinguish between non violent protests and violence. I am thinking that perhaps it is an educational experience for them. Why aren’t there protests in those neighborhoods? I wish no harem to any elected or to Chief Best and wish them only the best and to stay safe.

  6. Justin, how does CHS decide when to use a text description (like “defund SPD”) and when to use a hashtag or another freeform name chosen by one side of an issue?

    I don’t remember any other controversial topics where CHS’s article titles and introductions use something other than a factual description (“defund SPD”), but I may not have been paying enough attention.

  7. These far-left, white radicals are truly obnoxious, and their methods only serve to alienate the majority of Seattleites who support BLM. Their arrogance and self-righteousness knows no bounds.

    As for the Council, cutting funds to the Navigation Team is a horrible idea. It will only lead to more tents and vagrancy in our public spaces. And because it is a primary goal of the Nav Team to get homeless into transitional or semi-permanent housing, it would result in stopping one of the few ways we are actually helping homeless people.

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