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Council rejects ‘No New Cops’ bid in 2021 budget, adding to Seattle’s list of #defundSPD compromises

After months of protest and activism for Black Lives Matter causes and defunding the police, the political accomplishments for the movements in Seattle continue to be a work in progress.

Thursday, a bid to freeze any new hiring at the Seattle Police Department next year grown out of the activist-backed “Solidarity Budget” effort and championed by Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Tammy Morales failed as the council wrapped up a marathon two days of amendments to pound out the city’s final 2021 budget.

A final vote on the budget comes Monday when the hiring issue is unlikely to again hit the table.

The “No New Cops” proposal would have redirected $9 million in officer salaries to social and community service spending Inspired by the Solidarity Budget, a slate of spending proposals from a coalition of community and activist groups, only Morales and Sawant backed the proposed budget amendment Thursday as council president Lorena González and others argued that attrition fears pushed forward by Mayor Jenny Durkan and budget cuts to the department could hinder SPD’s public safety efforts.

The amendment failed 7-2.

The defeat joins a string of votes and decisions from Seattle City Hall that, at best, represent major compromises to many of the demands made during the Capitol Hill occupied protest and ongoing rallies, marches, and unrest. Earlier this year, the council overcame Durkan’s veto of its planned cuts to the city’s remaining 2020 budget that included around $3 million carved out of SPD — far from the 50% goal that became a popular rallying cry at protests. For 2021’s budget, the cut to SPD will pencil out to a more substantial 17%. Meanwhile, the reality of political compromises has inspired new calls from Black and BIPOC organizations to change how the city decides how to spend its resources.

Never one much for compromise, District 3’s Sawant also took a familiar position Thursday as she came out on the losing side in another amendment vote. This summer, Sawant brought forward the only proposal that she said would have truly cut SPD’s budget by 50% but found no support from the council. Thursday, Sawant’s bid to halve SPD’s budget in 2021 also failed to gain additional support.

CHS reported here on the final moves to shape Seattle’s 2021 budget in the face of economic uncertainty in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. You can learn more about Sawant and the rest of the council’s proposed amendments here.

A full council vote on the final 2021 budget is planned for Monday.


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1 year ago

The idea that you can get 16% of the vote and then claim you have the right to tell the city what to do is insane.

1 year ago

Glad that Sawant/Morales lost this one. And glad that the City Council is acting sensibly for a change, although I’m not optimistic this will continue.