The City Council set what many of its members said is the foundation for broader cuts to the Seattle Police Department Monday by passing a package of budget cuts that will include cutting 100 officers and making new investments in community-based organizations.
The package passed 7-1 with District 3’s Councilmember Kshama Sawant opposed, calling it an “austerity budget,” and Councilmember Debora Juarez, a member who has been critical of vast police budget cuts, excused for the day.
“What’s important today is that we haven’t just said ‘No,’” said citywide Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, who chairs the budget committee. “What’s important is that we have said we will walk with you, we will walk with you in community to recreate a truly community-led public safety model. What’s important is that we have not just stood in the way or blocked the road.”
“Today I voted against what is euphemistically called the City Council’s ‘Balancing Package’ to the 2020 budget, because the only balancing that is happening is on the backs of working people, especially in Black and Brown communities,” Sawant said in a statement after the vote.
“With my ‘no’ vote today, I affirm our movement’s unchanging demands: Defund SPD by at least 50% and tax big business and the rich, not working people, because we can’t pay and we won’t pay for this crisis – this crisis of the racist and bankrupt system of capitalism,” the Sawant statement concluded. CHS reported here on Sawant’s 50% proposal. No other council members joined her in support of the immediate 50% cut.
Monday’s vote follows a summer of protest in Seattle as Black Lives Matter demonstrators and community groups have for weeks demanded a reduction of at least 50% from SPD’s budget, a call that received support from a majority of the council.
The council documented the cuts and shifted spending plans in a press release following the vote:
Total initial cuts to SPD’s budget during the summer session are a down-payment for future potential reductions to the SPD budget. These reductions equate to nearly $4 million in cuts, which actualized over a year will equate to an estimated $11 million.