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Updates: Protests for racial justice in the Northwest

caption: FILE: An individual demonstrating for racial justice holds a sign that reads 'White Silence Kills,' on Sunday June 7, 2020, near Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
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FILE: An individual demonstrating for racial justice holds a sign that reads 'White Silence Kills,' on Sunday June 7, 2020, near Cal Anderson Park in Seattle.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Demonstrations and protests for racial justice continue in western Washington, alongside related action from local leaders.

The rallying cry of these protests has been to defund the police. Here's what that means.


Seattle’s mayor and the outgoing SPD monitor are at odds over when to hire the city’s next chief of police.

Community groups have called for reassigning police funding and duties. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan said she won’t seek to hire a new chief for the Seattle Police Department while the agency’s size and scope are in flux. “What do we want our police department to do, let’s define that as a community and then let’s hire the right chief to run that department,” Durkan said Thursday on KUOW’s The Record. Adrian Diaz is serving as interim SPD chief after Carmen Best resigned in August.

But the agency’s longtime court-appointed monitor said SPD needs new leadership now, preferably from outside the department. Merrick Bobb has monitored SPD’s compliance with a federal consent decree meant to curb excessive force for the past seven years. “I don’t like that delay,” he said on The Record. “As much as I like and respect and admire Mayor Durkan, this is one particular area where I do disagree with her. I think we should begin tomorrow.”

Bobb has resigned, saying a new monitor should oversee SPD’s response to recent protests.

He said over the course of the consent decree, SPD made tremendous progress in reducing officers’ use of force by 63%, and became a national model in crisis intervention. Bobb said if SPD had maintained that progress, “it would have been out from under the consent decree entirely. But “that fell apart this spring when in connection with the protests, the city withdrew its motion to have its case dismissed, to have the consent decree be over. At that point it really became clear that there needed to be a new monitor and a new team to deal with a new set of facts on the ground."

"We had gotten it to the point where there was full and effective compliance, they fell out and now it will be the job of a new monitor and a new team to figure out where the SPD goes from here," Bobb said.

The Office of Police Accountability is still investigating the complaints of officer misconduct during protests But Bobb says in his personal opinion, SPD responded to the demonstrations with excessive force. The court has named Dr. Antonio Oftelie to replace Bobb, and appointed Monisha Harrell as deputy monitor.

-- Amy Radil

Recall Durkan petition launched by Tim Eyman causes concern

9 a.m. -- Perennial initiative activist Tim Eyman is being scrutinized for circulating a fake petition to recall Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.

The people behind the real recall campaign are crying foul. The genuine campaign hasn't started collecting signatures yet. They're still awaiting a ruling from the state Supreme Court.

Crosscut Reporter Melissa Santos reports that Eyman began a petition to recall Mayor Durkan during his campaign for governor (he lost the primary). He sent out links to a real-looking petition and gave speeches acting as if he actually launched it. Blank petition sheets were available for download online, and Eyman instructed people to send them to the Seattle City Clerk's Office (the clerk's office says the unofficial petitions will not be accepted). Two petition sheets were sent to the clerk's office by the time Crosscut reported the story.

Organizers with the real Recall Durkan campaign have sent Eyman a cease and desist letter. They also filed a complaint with the state public disclosure commission, which regulates campaign finance violations. They're worried that those who want to sign the real petition might think they already did.

Signing a petition twice is illegal.

Eyman told Crosscut what he did is protected as free speech. He called the complaints from the real Recall Durkan campaign a "Nothing Burger."

-- John O'Brien

US Attorney's Office announces 8th arrest

8 a.m. -- The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle announced its eighth arrest related to events during this summer’s protests against racism and police brutality. U.S. Attorney Brian Moran says his office is pursuing people who commit acts of arson or firearms violations.

Defense attorneys, however, are raising concern. They say the Justice Department is going out of its way to discredit the protests, and that it is unusual for federal attorneys to take on local cases such as these. U.S. Attorney Moran says that his office has not been influenced by the Department of Justice to take on the cases from Seattle protests. “I’ve been asked this a few times, ‘Are you getting directions from main Justice and the White House about who to charge, and how many to charge?’ and the answer is ‘absolutely not,’” he said

Read more details here.

-- Amy Radil


Use-of-force questioned at recent protests

7 a.m. -- People protesting for racial justice in Seattle's International District Monday night say police officers used excessive force.

Video of one incident shows a crowd of pedestrians moving away from police when an officer pushed one of them hard enough that she fell backwards.

KUOW interviewed a witness and agreed not to use her name because she's worried about retaliation by the police or by right-wing groups.

She says the person who was pushed was a bystander.

"She was literally one of the smallest people in the crowd. The biggest cop came in and shoved her as hard as he could."

The Seattle Police Department said in a statement that they'll be reviewing the use of force in accordance with department policy.

The department says 22 people were arrested on suspicion of assault, arson, obstructing and failure to disperse.

In a separate incident, a woman was injured outside the West Precinct. Witnesses say an officer shoved the woman to the ground, but the police claim she fell on her own while running away from them.

-- Eilis O'Neill


Protesters arrested outside of SPOG headquarters

9 a.m. -- Seattle police arrested at least 22 people Monday, following a demonstration outside the Seattle Police Officers Guild building in SoDo.

Video posted online showed a wall of protesters standing their ground before a sea of police officers came out on their bikes.

Police claim some in the crowd threw small explosives and rocks at them. Some protesters dispute that claim, saying they were peaceful before officers confronted and started arresting them.

--Angela King

Seattle City Council returns to consider veto

8 a.m. -- The Seattle City Council gets back to work Tuesday after a two-week recess.

Among the topics to be addressed -- whether to overturn the mayor’s latest vetoes of their bills. In August, Mayor Jenny Durkan used her veto power to stop a series of budget bills that would have cut salaries of police command staff, eliminated 100 police positions over time, and overall reduced the SPD budget by 1%.

Seattle City Council members have two weeks to decide whether to overrule the veto. None have indicated whether they'll push for overriding the veto. That's just what community organizers want, however.

The group Seattle Everyday Evening March and allies held a teach-in on Friday about how to push for the policing cuts to become law.

They, and Morning March Seattle, have protested nearly every day this summer, and want SPD defunded by at least 50%.

-- Paige Browning


9 arrested on I-5 in Seattle

2:15 p.m. -- Troopers with the Washington State Patrol arrested nine people who blocked traffic on I-5 through Seattle Friday morning.

The Seattle Times reports that the group who blocked I-5 with their cars -- Morning March -- has also recently blocked traffic on the Ballard Bridge and Highway 99 in Seattle.

Morning March has been calling for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign, and have demanded a closure of the county's juvenile justice center, as well as defunding the Seattle Police Department and redirecting that money to community organizations.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the vehicles that blocked traffic on I-5 were impounded.

--Dyer Oxley


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