Seattle marks 150 days of protest with march from Capitol Hill

“Seattle organizers are planning a protest against police brutality as clashes with cops and rioting in Minneapolis have continued in the fiery unrest following the killing of George Floyd,” CHS reported Friday, May 29th.

That May march was organized by Central District anti-police and gun violence group Not This Time and activist Andre Taylor. But by the end of the night as thousands moved through the streets of the city and across Capitol Hill, it was clear that something larger was taking place.

150 day later, organizers of the groups that have formed and galvanized in the months since that first night of protest in Seattle gathered smaller crowds Monday night in Cal Anderson Park. Still measuring in the hundreds, the demonstrators heard organizers plead for those who showed up to mark the milestone and recommit to bolster the ongoing demonstrations and Black Lives Matter cause. Some expressed surprise at the large turnout as smaller groups have been continuing to protest, march, and sometimes take direct action with property damage and vandalism in the weeks since the larger citywide protests have ended.

A CHS timeline of the “150 days” is below. Continue reading

Seattle will spend $2M through end of 2020 on team to provide homelessness outreach services — without police

(Image: CHS)

The Seattle City Council Monday voted 7 to 1 to spend more than $2 million through the end of 2020 on a homelessness outreach effort to replace the scuttled Navigation Team program.

The spending will fund an eight person team providing behavioral health services, case management, and assistance to help campers and those living outside find shelter — housing navigation services. But it won’t include police.

“There were folks in public comment who were stating their frustration about the city, having been bogged down and really important disagreements about the future direction of what our homelessness response is going to look like,” Andrew Lewis, chair of the council’s committee on homelessness and the bill’s sponsor said about the vote. “And this is the first step to all of us realizing our common interest in this and moving forward in a way that can hopefully finally bridge the divide and get people to the really critical resources that they need and that this council has appropriated money to address.” Continue reading

Business and community group letter: ‘Spiraling public health and public safety crisis’ in Cal Anderson and Seattle’s parks

Cal Anderson still closed

A group led by the Downtown Seattle Association and including representatives from business and community groups across the city has joined the call for repairing Cal Anderson and a roster of Seattle public parks they say are “experiencing a spiraling public health and public safety crisis.”

In a letter sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan and city officials and shared with media Monday, the DSA and the roster of groups including the Alliance for Pioneer Square, Visit Seattle, and the West Seattle Junction Association joined with Hill-area organizations Seattle Central College, Freeway Park Association, and the 15th Ave E Merchants in calling for the creation of an “interagency team” and “an immediate action plan” to address disrepair and encampments in the parks. Continue reading

Latest batch of Office of Police Accountability findings includes dismissed East Precinct biased policing complaint

The process continues to play out for the Office of Police Accountability to make its way through thousands of complaints against the Seattle Police Department after months of protests and demonstrations in the city. The OPA last week released a second batch of decisions in protest-related cases including findings of police misconduct. The findings also illustrate the value of body worn video in monitoring police conduct.

Seattle City Council Insight examined the latest reports including one sustained finding that officer use of force in a June 7th protest was “reasonable and necessary, but it was not proportional given that the demonstrator was not physically resisting and was not a physical threat.” Continue reading

City has a street, tent, and heater permit plan that could help your favorite Capitol Hill restaurants and bars survive rain season in Seattle

The Unicorn’s street setup (Image: The Unicorn)

Mayor Jenny Durkan and the City of Seattle are rolling out changes that might be the biggest boost struggling Capitol Hill food and drink venues can get as we head into the wet and cold Seattle winter and what seems likely to be many more months of COVID-19 restrictions.

The mayor announced Wednesday afternoon that the city will extend temporary street permits that allow outdoor seating though Halloween of 2021 and that the Seattle Fire Department is stepping up its process to allow free tent and heating permits to venues that comply with fire codes and strict inspection requirements. Continue reading

10 things CHS heard at Sawant’s 2021 People’s Budget town hall

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant opened her annual People’s Budget town hall Tuesday evening with a central question animating much of the city’s politics this year: “Who is paying and who’s going to pay in the future for this pandemic and the economic collapse that has happened around us?”

In the two-hour virtual town hall, Sawant and many panelists laid out a road map for how they plan to push back against what they term an “austerity budget” for 2021 from Mayor Jenny Durkan over the next month as negotiations continue between the mayor’s office and the city council.

CHS reported earlier on the timeline and issues for the 2021 city budget process here and the push for community-driven participatory budget in Seattle.

Here are 10 things CHS heard Tuesday night:

  • Specific issues speakers from the council member’s office and supporters with the mayor’s proposed budget unveiled last month included a failure to defund the Seattle Police Department, to stop sweeps of homeless encampments, and budget cuts to transportation, libraries, and community centers. “Mayor Durkan’s proposed budget attacks working people,” Sawant said. Continue reading

Black-led organizers, Sawant at odds with mayor over community’s role in how City of Seattle spends

By Ben Adlin

After a summer marked by protests over police racism and brutality, Seattle officials and community organizers seem to agree that vulnerable communities deserve a greater say in the city’s budget process. But with little more than a month before the City Council adopts its 2021 budget, stakeholders still differ sharply over what that involvement will look like.

There are competing visions. Some focus on a $100 million fund proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan to support initiatives aimed at benefiting Black, brown, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. A task force made up of representatives from local equity organizations, selected by the mayor, would guide the process by issuing recommendations on how the money might be spent. Durkan’s office last week announced an initial list of more than two dozen members.

Others see another way — put forward by King County Equity Now, a Black-led coalition of community groups and businesses, alongside the group Decriminalize Seattle — and are skeptical of the mayor’s proposal. Little about Durkan’s plan, they say, would put sufficient power in the hands of BIPOC communities, particularly Black people, to undo generations of racist policies in the city.

Instead, KCEN and its partner groups are hard at work on the first phase of a grander budget scheme aimed at giving Seattleites a more direct say in issues that affect their daily lives. That process could eventually control up to $200 million, some organizers say—twice the mayor’s proposed BIPOC fund.

The two views represent contrasting visions of the growing push for participatory budgeting centered on the principle that the people most affected by public policies deserve a voice in how they’re made. Continue reading

After September spike in Seattle Police ‘separations,’ Durkan warns against deeper department cutbacks

SPD officers at work outside the East Precinct in an image posted by police union president Mike Solan

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis and better career prospects outside the Seattle Police Department might achieve what anti-police demonstrators, funding cuts, and hiring freezes could not — fewer cops in Seattle.

Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office says City Budget Office and Seattle Police Department reporting shows an unprecedented spike in cops leaving the department last month and trends that could put the total number of 911 patrol officers on the streets of Seattle back at numbers last seen in the 1990s when the city’s population was around 30% smaller.

The mayor’s release of the information comes amid ongoing 2021 budget deliberations and increasing criticism from policing advocates including the Seattle Police Officers Guild, the union Durkan is destined to tangle with as contract negotiations come to a head in 2021.

According to the analysis prepared for the “Seattle Police Department Year-to-Date Attrition Levels” report, posted below, if Seattle continues an SPD hiring freeze in 2021, the department’s number of officers available for 911 response could drop to 1,139 by 2022, down 154 officers 2020, a 12% drop to nearly the same number of officers SPD says it had available for patrol 30 years ago. SPD says it employed 1,271 sworn officers in 1990. Continue reading

Durkan names 28 to Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force to set course for $100M in Seattle BIPOC spending

Mayor Durkan’s $100 million pledge came as the city set about dismantling CHOP this summer

Mayor Jenny Durkan has announced the members selected for the 28-person Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force, a group her office says will “spearhead a community-led process” to allocate “a historic $100 million new investment in Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities” and “address the deep disparities caused by systemic racism and institutionalized oppression.”

The task force will include District 3 connections in the pastor of 14th Ave’s First AME Church, the president of Capitol Hill’s Seattle Central College, the head of Central District nonprofit Byrd Barr Place, and Ray Williams of the Black Farmers Collective, the urban farming group active in the Yesler neighborhood and the Central District. Continue reading

Seattle Police Department rolls out new Community Response Group with 100 officers to speed up 911, ‘respond to demonstrations’

The Seattle Police Department is unveiling its new Community Response Group, a 100-officer unit that interim Chief Adrian Diaz said is helping bring down 911 response times on Capitol Hill and across the city.

Diaz said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the SPD’s West Precinct that the group has responded to 400 incidents and they are arriving at the scenes of crimes in under seven minutes. The unit also includes 10 sergeants.

Diaz used the example of the response group’s work last Friday, as police responded to major vehicle collisions, violent crime, and continued demonstrations against police brutality simultaneously, to argue that the city should not look to cut the police force as some Seattle City Council members have proposed. The council and Mayor Jenny Durkan have just begun their 2021 budgeting process, which will continue into November.

“This just tells you the need for officers to be out and being engaged and being connected and being able to respond to 911,” Diaz said. “I am concerned when we talk about making the department smaller because a Friday night, it tapped almost every level of resource that we had, but we were able to do that because we made these adjustments early on in my tenure.” Continue reading