Black Brilliance Research Project, born from Seattle’s Black Lives Matter protests, moving on without King County Equity Now — UPDATE

One of the most concrete outcomes at Seattle City Hall of the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests is showing cracks and fissures. Monday afternoon, people working on the Black Brilliance Research Project said they have chosen to “part ways” with King County Equity Now, a coalition of Black-led organizations including the Central District’s Africatown that formed during the protests and rallies of 2020 and grew into a new nonprofit to end the year.

“We know that our liberation is intertwined, and we will continue to build alongside all people invested in Black liberation,” the announcement reads. “However, we do not have confidence in KCEN leadership’s current capacity and ability to bring this research project to the finish line in a way that meets the needs of our researchers and community and serves the best interests of the project’s vision and responsibility moving forward.”

Monday’s announcement is signed by Shaun Glaze and LéTania Severe, who have led Black Brilliance Research, and four other groups — Black Trans Prayer Book Researchers, Bridging Cultural Gaps Researchers, Sacred Community Connections Researchers, and The Silent Task Force Researchers — working on the project to document alternatives to policing and increased investment in social and community programs.

It comes as the city, King County Equity Now, and the research project have faced questions about the City Council’s legislative process to award the $3 million contract and a state audit exploring the transaction involving the city, King County Equity Now, and financial sponsor the Freedom Project.

The push for the project and the money to fund the research was part of the City Council’s 2020 budget rebalancing battle with Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office. That fight survived a Durkan veto with help from KCEN and Decriminalize Seattle’s pressure to maintain the community investment. Continue reading

Override or compromise? Seattle City Council holds special meeting to respond to mayor’s #defundSPD veto

The Seattle City Council will take a swing Tuesday in the ongoing fight to redirect spending on policing to community programs and social services in the city by either overriding Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto of its defunding legislation passed in August — or forging a compromise bill that will preserve only a few key #defundSPD planks. Either way, the step will make any road to changing the Seattle Police Department a longer journey.

The council has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday afternoon starting at 3 PM to vote on the possible override of the mayoral veto of the council’s rebalanced 2020 budget package. To get there under the rules of budgetary legislation, that will mean seven of the nine council members will need to vote to override.

Council president Lorena González will lead the charge saying Monday she intends to vote to override the mayor’s vetoes but also acknowledging the compromise package waiting in the wings.

“We may not always agree or win every battle, but I believe many of us share the same vision of collective liberation that is (and will be) on the right side of history,” González said. “The work to divest from a broken model of policing will be a long road, and it will be full of challenges.”

Monday, community groups called for the council to side together to override Durkan and support the original cuts. Continue reading