Durkan, Best counter with 2021 #defundSPD proposal — UPDATE

Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best say they have a plan to “transfer current law enforcement functions out of the Seattle Police Department” and make “preliminary reductions to the 2021 budget” as most members of the Seattle City Council have now said they will support #defundSPD initiatives as they set cuts to the city’s spending plan in the face of the COVDI-19 economic crisis.

Durkan and Best said they would unveil the plan at a Monday morning news conference.

UPDATE 10:25 AM: In the session with media, Durkan said she 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 will 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.

Calling the demand for a 50% cut “arbitrary,” Durkan said she does not intend to meet the calls for a massive cut to SPD starting immediately.

Durkan announced Monday she has allocated $500,000 in the 2020 rebalanced budget for community engagement on the SPD budget and citywide work “to reimagine community safety.”

“The programs take time,” Durkan said.

If the council votes to approve a major, immediate slash of SPD’s budget, Durkan said she will fight it.

“I will veto it,” the mayor said. “We want to work with council for a responsible process to do this.” Continue reading

School says no CHOP 2 at Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central

Remnants of CHOP at Seattle Cenral (Image: CHS)

There will be no rebirth of the CHOP occupied protest camp on Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central College campus.

School officials say they will not allow a small camp of tents to grow on the college’s south lawn.

“We are currently working with the City of Seattle Police Department and navigation team to relocate the people camping on our property,” a spokesperson for the public community college told CHS Thursday. Continue reading

Seven of nine Seattle City Council members pledge #defundSPD support

(Image: CHS)

Seven of the nine Seattle City Council members say they will support the effort to reduce the Seattle Police budget by 50%, the key component of demands from activists and community groups after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests, marches, and rallies in the Pacific Northwest.

The important threshold would represent a veto-proof majority on any council action as the representatives shape major changes to the city’s budget in the face of predictions of a significant downturn in revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis — a rebalancing process planned to be finalized and voted on in the next two weeks.

CHS reported on Wednesday’s council budget committee session’s deep dive into SPD spending and the strong support for #defundSPD voiced during public testimony. Massively reducing spending on policing has been at the center of demands during weeks of protests and demonstrations around Seattle in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

“We’ve seen a lot of unrest over the last six weeks, much of it built upon generations of struggle for Black liberation,” activist and lawyer Nikkita Oliver said in a media conference hosted Thursday by the two coalitions driving the #defundSPD effort and a spending plan for the diverted funds “We are, though, at a very significant moment as this movement continues to grow and seeing the discussion of defund the police be more than a chant in the street.” Continue reading

2020 Seattle Black Film Festival streams this weekend

Delayed and moved online by the COVID-19 crisis, the Seattle Black Film Festival begins Friday with a streamed schedule of screenings and events. The delay makes for a timely arrival of Langston’s annual festival after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in Seattle and also means a busy weekend for film as the city gets a slow, cooler start start to summer.

No tickets are required to participate in all festival events, but donations to Langston are encouraged. You can find a full schedule and more information at langstonseattle.org.

While the online experience might lack some of the social aspects of attending the festival in person, an online film festival can match much of the urgency of making your way through a packed schedule of screenings and speakers. The event is streamed as a live festival — not an on demand archive: Continue reading

The Capitol Hill Trader Joe’s has reopened after being closed ‘indefinitely’ for remodel after Black Lives Matter controversy — Here’s what’s changed

Thanks to CHS reader Andrew for the pictures

The E Madison Trader Joe’s has reopened after one of the stranger remodeling closures in Capitol Hill grocery store history with a new layout that seems optimized for the new world of COVID-19 era retail.

We asked readers in the Capitol Hill Seattle Facebook Group to report back on what they found.

The front has been cleared out with the staff desk area known as The Bridge moved back by the liquor section, and new entrance and exit sections with “with low wooden walls and gates” added to channel shoppers into and out of the store. There are new areas for customers to pack their groceries into reusable bags and aisles across the store have reportedly been widened. And, we’re sorry to report, the sample station has been completely removed from the back of the store. Thoughts and prayers. Continue reading

City Council hears proposals for Seattle Police changes, strong public support for #defundSPD during budget deliberations

With reporting by Lena Friedman — CHS Intern

The Seattle City Council continued its inquest into the Seattle Police Department budget Wednesday with organizers outlining suggested cuts and changes that could include overhauling the way the department handles 911 emergency calls and how money should be reinvested into the Black community.

Nearly 45,000 people have signed a petition in line with demands from protesters of systemic racism and police brutality, which include defunding the SPD by 50%, redirecting money into community solutions, and freeing protesters arrested during demonstrations, according to a presentation from Decriminalize Seattle. Four council members, including Kshama Sawant, have indicated support for cutting the SPD budget in half and others have said they support some reductions.

“We’re talking about dramatically changing what it means to create a public safety network,” Teresa Mosqueda, who chairs the council’s budget committee and has said she supports a 50% redirection of the SPD budget, said Wednesday. “We know that this world we are currently working within is not actually creating the health and safety that’s been promised.”

Wednesday, Mosqueda and her council counterparts heard strong support for the defunding efforts during public comment on the deliberations. Massively reducing spending on policing has been at the center of demands during weeks of protests and demonstrations around Seattle in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

The debate over how exactly to #defundSPD will come to a head as the council reshapes the mayor office proposal for changes to the city’s budget in the face of the expected COVID-19 economic crisis. The council is scheduled to hold a final vote on the rebalance on July 20th.

Angélica Cházaro, a law professor at the University of Washington and organizer with Decriminalize Seattle, said cuts to the SPD could come from various aspects of the department, including cutting its training budget, freezing hiring, and reducing patrol staff, among ten specific cuts that could be made. Continue reading

Driver who sped through I-5 protest killing one charged with vehicular homicide

The driver who sped onto a closed I-5 during a Seattle Black Lives Matter protest, killing one and badly injuring another when he raced through the crowd of demonstrators, will be charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, and reckless driving, the King County Prosecutor announced Wednesday.

Prosecutors say 27-year-old Dawit Kelete tested sober after he crashed into and killed 24-year-old Summer Taylor and sent 32-year-old Diaz Love to the hospital with serious injuries. The Seattle man remains jailed on $1.2 million bail. He is scheduled to enter a plea on the charges in two weeks.

The charges indicate prosecutors and detectives do not have evidence that Kelete targeted the protest. “Additional charges may be added or amended based on the information that may be sent to our office from the ongoing investigation,” a statement from the prosecutor’s office reads.

Prosecutors say the investigation,is being handled by the Washington State Patrol and the FBI.

CHS reported on the July 4th, 1:30 AM collision after Kelete drove onto the closed freeway in a white Jaguar and sped toward the crowd, careening into Taylor and Love, and trying to race away before being arrested after he was stopped by a car in place to protect the protestors. Continue reading

Summer Taylor remembered

Summer Taylor, right, dancing early Saturday morning on I-5 (Images: @nowah_j)

They died after dancing the Cupid Shuffle on I-5 in the middle of Seattle on a night of protest and energy with friends and loved ones.

Summer Taylor was 24.

The activist and Capitol Hill resident died Saturday as they marched and danced with the nightly Black Femme March for Black Lives Matter. As it had for weeks, the group entered the freeway and brought traffic to a stop to get their message out and make a stand. Continue reading

Capitol Hill and Cal Anderson reopen after CHOP leaving artists and activists wondering what Black Lives Matter promises will be kept

(Image: CHS)

As the physical clean-up of E Pine and Cal Anderson is completed, activists and the communities that formed around the Capitol Hill protest zone have growing doubts about the commitment of Mayor Jenny Durkan and her city department leaders to Black Lives Matter promises big and small made in the wake of the Seattle Police raid and sweep that cleared the area of the occupied protest last week.

An off-the-mark preservation effort Sunday to protect the massive Black Lives Matter mural that stretches along E PIne south of Cal Anderson at the heart of the month-long protest and occupation is a sign, the artists behind it say, of their concerns that the city wants to simply wash away Seattle’s BLM goals even as activists continue to march — and risk their lives — for the cause.

“What happened today is putting a very bad impression on how these things will go,” Takiyah Ward of TDUB CUSTOMS, who said she was speaking as one representative for the 13 artists who worked on the mural, tells CHS.

Sunday morning, Lawrence Pitre, an artist and head of the nonprofit business organization the Central Area Chamber of Commerce, began what he called a citizen-led preservation effort to seal the painted pavement and protect the street-wide BLACK LIVES MATTER letters. Continue reading

Confederate memorial in Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery toppled

Thanks reader Jonathan for the picture

Ten tons of granite hewed from the Georgia mountain birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan has come tumbling down from the top of Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

The controversial monument to Confederate soldiers of the Civil War in the middle of Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery was pulled down apparently Friday or overnight. Witnesses described a scene indicating the huge Stone Mountain granite monument was toppled and dragged until it collapsed. Yellow pull straps were left behind at the scene.

The Independence Day episode echoes with efforts to remove and topple monuments to racist figures and the Confederacy around the country during a wave of Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. States bearing the Confederate “stars and bars” are also grappling with pressure to remove the symbol.

Meanwhile, with the controversial monument toppled, 4th of July also brought a crowd of about 100 chanting and marching right wing protesters and Trump supporters to the area where the Capitol Hill protest zone was cleared earlier this week. Around 1 PM Saturday, the march clashed with groups of counter-protesters near 11th and Pine and video showed a right wing demonstrator spraying his opponents with pepper spray. The group, including some apparently heavily armed participants, was reported marching around the neighborhood and into Volunteer Park.

Continue reading