The demands for justice that sparked a year of protests across the country including the formation of CHOP and clashes with Seattle Police here on Capitol Hill are still far from being met but the cop who killed George Floyd has been convicted of murder.
A jury of his peers Tuesday convicted former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter for killing the 46-year-old Floyd last May, a police killing that set off a wave of protests that have continued into 2021.
The verdict marks an unusual conviction in the prosecution of law enforcement personnel and a victory for Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison who said Tuesday that much more beyond the Floyd case still must change to address inequity in the justice system. “This has to end,” Ellison said of deadly police violence. “We need true justice. That’s not one case. That’s social transformation that says no one is beneath the law and no one is above it.”
The Chauvin trial began in early March.
Beginning five days after Floyd was killed last May, Seattle was rocked by major protests and violent clashes with police that damaged parts of downtown and climbed onto Capitol Hill. At the time, Mayor Jenny Durkan said violent acts in Seattle “do not honor Mr. Floyd” and the escalated SPD response and curfew were needed after “many thousands” of protesters “flowed into downtown primarily interested in destruction.”
Black Lives Matter demonstrations and the cause of justice for Floyd grew and became the foundation for a summer of activism and protest as blast balls and gas filled the streets of Capitol Hill in June and the occupied protest zone of CHOP formed.
Durkan and SPD Chief Adrian Diaz were scheduled to be part of a late afternoon press conference to discuss Tuesday’s verdict.
While they will likely be supportive of the decision and justice in the case, they have plenty of work still to do in their own city.
Earlier this year, CHS reported on two SPD killings in two weeks after Seattle University graduate student Derek Hayden was shot and killed by police on the waterfront.
The recent past reveals many more names across the region. Renee Davis in 2016, Jacqueline Salyers, Daniel Covarrubias, Tommy Le, Charleena Lyles, Giovonn Joseph-McDade in 2017.
The Seattle Police Department alone shot and killed seven people since 2017. Of those, two were Black. CORRECTION: CHS erroneously reported 20 people have been killed by SPD since 2017. The correct total is seven. The seven incidents involved 20 officers, according to SPD data. We apologize for the error.
Legal ramifications for the cops involved in the deadly shootings here have so far been extremely limited. The officers in the Lyles shooting weren’t prosecuted after findings that their actions were within department policies. Ian Birk, the officer in the John T. Williams killing, was also not charged.
Frustration over the 2017 SPD killing of Lyles inspired last summer’s looting of a Capitol Hill store owned by the wife of one of the officers who fatally shot her. Meanwhile, her reaction to the financial settlement with family ofLe, shot and killed by a deputy in 2017 may cost King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht her job.
Meanwhile, Seattle is still grappling with how best to move spending away from policing and into community and social programs. Months of Black Lives Matter rallies, marches, protests, and the occupied takeover of the blocks around Cal Anderson and Capitol Hill’s East Precinct have pushed Seattle to shift 20% of its police budget into a $30 million participatory budgeting process hoped to spur new spending on social programs, community health, and economic investment.
In the East Precinct around Capitol Hill, the Central District, and the centers of clashes where police responded with crowd control tactics and non-lethal munitions, the longterm damage to the community is still being assessed. The department’s annual survey of public sentiment around crime and public safety revealed that East Precinct residents feelings about police legitimacy plummeted to a new low in 2020.
UPDATE 4/21/2021 7:20 AM: A group of around 100 protesters dressed in black bloc gathered in Cal Anderson for an anti-police march in the wake of Tuesday’s verdict. The marchers were reported blocking traffic on Broadway, tailed by an equally large contingent of Seattle Police and a police vehicle broadcasting warnings and threats of arrest to the protesters interwoven with messages about free speech. “The Seattle Police Department is committed to the safe facilitation of First Amendment rights,” the speaker blared. “The First Amendment is not absolute,” the voice added.
SPD reported one person arrested after the march left Capitol Hill to pass through downtown and South Lake Union before climbing back to Broadway. There, police say protesters “shoved and tried to pepper spray a man who was following them and taking video” before returning to Cal Anderson and calling it a night.
A message for the bloc marching across the Hill, those enjoying a patio, and the rest of you scoring at home https://t.co/ke9HUZBAY9
— jseattle (@jseattle) April 21, 2021
THANKS! WE DID IT! 1,000 CHS SUBSCRIBERS -- We asked, you answered. Thanks for stepping up!
Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.