New report tries to answer what went wrong during Seattle Police’s response to 2020 Black Lives Matter protests — and what to do about it

Future Seattle protests could meet a larger, more technologically prepared police force with new directives including encouraging certain officers to speak their minds — if what the cops have to say doesn’t further inflame tensions.

The first report has been released from the city’s official review of public safety implications from last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests and the Seattle Police Department’s flawed response to the unrest.

The recommendations from the panel of SPD officials and community representatives convened for the effort recommends a major seachange for SPD’s strategy for policing protests to “focus more explicitly and comprehensively on the facilitation of peaceful assembly and ensuring the safety of protestors.”

“The focus and mindset of SPD officers deployed to assist in crowd events should move away from ‘crowd management,’ ‘crowd control,’ and ‘law enforcement’ to ‘facilitation of speech’ and ‘crowd protection and safety,'” the Office of Inspector General for Public Safety’s “Sentinel Event Review of Police Response to 2020 Protests in Seattle” report reads. Continue reading

Seattle announces plan for no-cop response to some 911 calls, $10.4M in grants for BIPOC public safety

The first big outlay from Mayor Jenny Durkan’s $30 million Equitable Communities Initiative will address public safety in BIPOC communities. Meanwhile, the mayor’s office says Durkan is set to unveil a new plan for how it responds to some 911 calls in the city as part of efforts to “reimagine policing and community safety.”

Friday, Durkan is set to unveil the planned creation of “a new specialized triage response program” to provide “an alternative model for some 911 calls.”

“Analyzing the data of 9-1-1 calls and recognizing the hiring challenges of sworn officers facing the Seattle Police Department, Mayor Durkan, SPD, SFD, and CSCC are proposing a series of plans to maintain 9-1-1 response while reducing the need for a sworn officer response in some calls,” the Durkan administration announcement reads.

Earlier this week, Durkan’s office announced $10.4 million in one-time funding for 18 months for 33 organizations “working toward community-led solutions to end violence and increase safety in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.”

“These investments will support organizations providing an array of programs, services, and upstream investments meant to improve outcomes and contribute to overall community safety and wellbeing,” the Durkan administration announcement reads. Continue reading

After complaint against Black Pride event’s ‘reparations fee,’ wave of cancellations hit tiny Capitol Hill Pride’s big plans for in-person festival

Happier days from Capitol Hill Pride in 2015

Two former Capitol Hill business owners who have continued to organize events through the years during the neighborhood’s annual Pride celebrations are scrambling this week to apologize over their complaints to the city about a competing Taking B(l)ack Pride event.

Dozens of scheduled participants including mayoral candidates, community groups, and entertainers for the planned festival in Cal Anderson Park have announced they will now not take part in the organizers’ Capitol Hill Pride in-person events this weekend.

“I will no longer be attending Capitol Hill Pride after reading their letter to the Seattle Human Rights Commission,” Seattle City Council president and mayoral candidate M. Lorena González said Friday joining a long string of cancellations. “After a year that has taken an unbelievable toll on all of our communities, I was looking forward to this opportunity to celebrate Pride in person. However, I simply cannot support an organization that is trying to stop Black people in the LGBTQ+ community from celebrating Pride in the manner that they choose.” Continue reading

‘The fight isn’t over’ — 2021 Seattle Juneteenth Freedom March crosses the Central District

With pandemic facemasks coming off and a year removed from last summer’s massive Black Lives Matter protests, the Juneteenth Freedom March crossed the Central District with calls  Saturday for stronger support for Seattle’s Black communities. Sunday, the celebration and activism continues with a festival of Black businesses in Jimi Hendrix Park.

“Pay the fee,” was one theme of the day as organizers King County Equity Now and Africatown continue the push for Black ownership of property and businesses to return to the Central District. “The fight isn’t over,” another sign read. Continue reading

Juneteenth 2021 in the Central District: Jackson’s Catfish Corner Grand Opening, Freedom March, Northwest African American Museum Jubilee

Over the weekend, the City of Seattle reversed course and issued a permit for a small Juneteenth event in Cal Anderson Park on the one-year anniversary of the formation of the occupied protest zone on Capitol Hill. While many of the battles of last year’s Black Lives Matter marches have transformed into plans and initiatives at Seattle City Hall, 2021’s Juneteenth celebrations will again center equity and equality as Black communities across the Seattle area mark the holiday celebrating the emancipation of slaves in the United States.

By this time next year, the day will be an official Washington state holiday.

Below, we’ve featured the upcoming Juneteenth events in Central Seattle including where you can find the Seattle Buffalo Soldiers. We’ve also included pictures from last summer as thousands took to the street for the Juneteenth Freedom March across the Central District.

Continue reading

CHOP: One year later — The East Precinct is abandoned and the protest zone forms

Where were you when the East Precinct was evacuated and the Capitol Hill protest zone formed?

A year ago, the first days of Black Lives Matter protest in Seattle following the police killing of George Floyd were days of anger and power as thousands took to the streets to demonstrate and form a movement. By Thursday, June 4th 2020, just ten days after Floyd’s murder, the battlelines between protesters and police had been drawn at 11th and Pine.

What came next — the days we look at below — sparked the Seattle Police Department’s decisions that led to the abandonment of the East Precinct at 12th and Pine and created the space to form CHOP — the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone turned Capitol Hill Occupied Protest that made worldwide headlines and changed the course of pandemic-era Seattle history.

Here is a look back at those days including many photographs being published now for the first time.

(Image: Noah Lubin with permission to CHS)

Continue reading

City says won’t permit Juneteenth celebration in Cal Anderson on anniversary of CHOP formation — UPDATE

Seattle Parks and the city’s Office of Economic Development have issued last-minute denials of permits for an event in Cal Anderson on the one-year anniversary of the formation of the occupied protest on Capitol Hill.

CHS reported on the June 11th to June 13th celebration planned for months by a CHOP Art group amid a call from the city for proposals for events and activities to activate the park and help the area recover from a year of protests, encampments, and pandemic.

In denying the permit, Seattle Parks and Recreation said it is holding Cal Anderson area events to “higher-than-usual safety and security standards” due to the protests and two homicides around the occupied zone last summer:

SPR is committed to creating spaces for community members to gather while also preserving the public safety and public health of the area. However, because of the extensive protest activity and the lacts (sic) of violence that occurred at the park and the surrounding area last summer and fall, as well as the significant restoration and cleanup efforts that were needed to restore the park, SPR is using higher-than-usual safety and security standards to evaluate all permit requests at Cal Anderson and Bobby Morris Playfield.

The parks department also said community backlash shaped its decisions. Continue reading

Durkan’s $100M Black Lives Matter promise: equity task force recommendations, call for proposals for $30M in land and property spending

A promise made at the height of Seattle’s Black Lives Matter protests last year, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s pledge of $100 million in spending to address inequity in the city is moving forward with new recommendations and a new call for proposals for $30 million in land and property acquisitions to help address displacement in the city.

The pledge made last year as Durkan attempted to address unrest and demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd is a complicated, four-part mix including new programs and counting previously existing initiatives toward her $100 million total.

“We face many challenges in recovery ahead, but as we continue to build back better, hope is on the horizon for communities across the City,” Durkan said in an announcement on recent progress on the $100 million goal.

Durkan’s 4-part $100M pledge:
The first part, participatory budgeting, isn’t a Durkan administration initiative but is being counted toward the $100 million pledge and could end up the the strongest new investment in the mix, putting a $30 million package of spending beneath the Office of Civil Rights to shape a community driven social and service plan.

2) But the mayor’s office has another $30 million component of the pledge being shaped by her 26-member Equitable Communities Initiative task force that could put real spending plans forward sooner. The task force, the second big component of the $100 million pledge, last week delivered a key recommendation set that the mayor’s office says will shape a new ordinance. The City Council will then shape the final legislation. Continue reading

One-year anniversary of start of Seattle Black Lives Matter protests: Black Wall Street rally in Central District, arrests downtown, Converge Media returns to Capitol Hill

One year after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota and the start of months of protests in the city, Seattle is taking stock of what has changed and marking the days of unrest.

CHS looked back here at the first days of Black Lives Matter protests that began in Seattle in the days after Floyd’s murder, leading to weeks of clashes on Capitol Hill between protesters and police, the abandonment of the East Precinct, and the formation of CHOP.

This week starting Memorial Day, another small but important chronicler of the Capitol Hill protests will be back in the neighborhood as Omari Salisbury and TraeAnna Holiday of Converge Media will return for a week of broadcasts from near 11th and Pine where the Seattle media service captured crucial scenes from unrest including the fateful “pink umbrella incident” still echoing through the ranks of Seattle Police leadership today.

Salisbury tells CHS the live Converge Returns to The Hill shows will focus on honoring the important efforts at change. Continue reading

St. Mark’s illuminated with names of people killed by police

(Image: ACLU of Washington)

Tuesday night, a message of remembrance appeared on the granite walls of Capitol Hill’s St. Mark’s Cathedral, visible from I-5 and across the city: GEORGE FLOYD SHOULD STILL BE ALIVE TODAY.

From May 25th, the one year anniversary of the police killing of George Floyd and of the start of the wave of Black Lives Matter protests that followed in Seattle and across the country, through June 8th, projections of the names of dozens of people killed by police will be projected onto the west façade of the North Capitol Hill house of worship in a project from St. Mark’s and the ACLU of Washington:

While the project began with George Floyd’s name on May 25, all other names will be those of people killed in Washington, including King, Pierce, Clark, and Snohomish Counties. The goal is to preserve the memory of local cases that may be in danger of being forgotten, and to serve as a reminder that these tragedies occur in Washington too, not just in other states. In Washington, about 40 to 50 people are killed by police officers each year. These victims are disproportionately Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian American Pacific Islander Washingtonians. The individuals whose names will be projected onto the cathedral have been included with the consent and support of their families through the WCPA, an organization which centers the voices of impacted family members whose loved ones have been killed by police.

You can also visit to learn more about the lives of those named as well as the circumstances of their killings, the ACLU says.

The names will be projected beginning at sunset and continuing for at least two hours each night.

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