Backtracking? Seattle Council votes down measure to reduce 2020 police budget by 50%

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SEATTLE WA –Seattle Council member Kshama Sawant recently proposed a bill that would cut the Seattle Police Department budget by 50%, or roughly $54 million dollars. 

Although the majority, if not all, of the city council vocally supported or called for the same measure not so long ago, the bill was overwhelming defeated in a 7 to 1 vote on August 5th, with one council member abstaining. 

The proposal was criticized by Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan the day before the vote, not because she stands with police, law, and order, but because the city literally cannot follow through on cutting the budget by 50%.  Council member Teresa Mosqueda agreed that they cannot get to the 50% mark in the 2020 fiscal budget. 

Mosqueda said, “We, in this effort don’t get to the 50 percent number, but we ramp ourselves up toward a conversation in the fall how we can right size the department.  The proposal we have in front of us ramps us into a 41 to 42 percent reduction in the year 2021, but it does so in a measured way to make sure we’re scaling up for community investments as well.” 

Durkan said that the council “couldn’t cut the department by 50 percent this year.  But next year, let’s work together to see how we can re-imagine policing.”

Other issues noted were the impacts of any potential layoffs of police officers as a result of the budget cuts.  Four unions have already started posturing for filing lawsuits if or when the layoffs begin. 

Kelsey Nyland, a spokeswoman for Durkan said, “The city has received demands to bargain from the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild, the Seattle Police Management Association, the Seattle Parking Enforcement Officers Guild, and the Seattle Police Dispatcher’s Guild.”  Mosqueda said she is prepared to negotiate any settlement agreements. 

The push to defund police departments started after the murder of George Floyd in May of this year.  Several cities have also taken action in reducing police budgets in larger metropolitan areas, like New York.  This city voted to reduce the New York Police by one billion dollars in June.  Since that vote, violent crime has drastically increased. 

Despite seeing the increase in violence in areas like New York, and those that are currently being experienced in Seattle and Portland, the Seattle council moved on several amendments focusing on downsizing police presence in the city. 

The budget committee unanimously approved $4 million dollars being sent to the Human Services Department under the belief that it will be able to reduce the amount of police contacts with citizens, an “alternative to traditional policing.”

Cuts of $886,000 from the Seattle Police budget will also be done to go toward other community led organizations to somehow increase public safety while cutting the number of officers.    

Additional cuts will be taken out of the implicit bias based policing training, ($36,000), $50,000 from department travel budget (includes travel to advanced schools and investigative trips), and $800,000 from the agencies recruitment and retention program. 

In addition, the budget committee also ordered Best to eliminate the police horse unit (mounted unit), public affairs, and lay off five members of the community outreach unit (community oriented policing).  Reduce the amount of SWAT officers from 29 to 27 and not replace 30 officers who are leaving or retiring from the agency.  This would result in a reduction of 54 police officers.

Even though these reductions are significant, and undoubtedly will decrease public safety, (just ask New York), Durkan believes that the council is on the right path. 

“The Chief and I, again, we are absolutely committed, committed to reimaging how policing works in the city, to having a better community-based response, to have a public health and harm reduction-based response.  But we also know that policing is complicated and that sometimes you do need a police officer to respond.”

In the meantime, the same group of people that have been attacking the city of Seattle since May are now suing the police department seeking reimbursement for buying protective equipment, amongst other things. 

This group of people claim in their lawsuit that the Seattle Police Department is forcing them to buy the “expensive” equipment so they can peacefully protest.

The lawsuit was filed on August 3rd in the United States District Court in the Western District of Washington. 

The plaintiffs in the case, Jessica Benton, Shelby Bryant, Anne Cavanaugh, Alyssa Garrison, and Claire Thomas (all fresh out of their parents’ basement) are alleging that their civil rights have been violated. 

They claim that they are just trying to peacefully march and protest police brutality but the “omnipresent” Seattle Police Department is at each protest wielding “power and pain on the streets,” by illegally attacking them with chemical munitions and less lethal rounds. 

In their belief, only those who can afford to buy expensive protective equipment can protest, or really riot, and thus is the crux of the lawsuit.  Except for their demands….

The lawsuit clearly spells out their demands, that this group of cowards, who mainly march while masked so their parents cannot be ashamed and it makes them getting arrested harder, that police department be defunded by 50%. 

Not only that, but they demand that “pending charges against protesters arrested in Seattle” be dropped. 

The group of criminals claim they were subjected to “unmitigated violence” at the hands of the police on July 25th while just peacefully protesting.  What the lawsuit fails to mention is this peaceful protest was actually a riot in which over 55 police officers were injured.  What started out as a peaceful protest against all police turned violent as they often do.

Reports: Seattle rioters arrested after throwing firebombs, trying to destroy detention facilities

As the group of violent rioters walked past the King County Juvenile Detention Facility, they began throwing explosive devices at buildings, into trailers, and breaking vehicle windows on their war path. 

The criminals then walked toward the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct and tried to vandalize it and remove the surveillance cameras. 

At least one of the rioters threw some type of explosive device into the building which left an 8-inch hole in the wall

As a result of the violence caused by the rioters, police had no choice in stepping back and allowing the mass attack on Seattle.  Officers utilized chemical agents and less lethal munitions in order to stop the chaos the rioters created.  And now, they are complaining about it.

In the lawsuit, the group says, “Because the Seattle Police Department has acted above and outside the law in dispensing its unbridled force, and the City has failed to prevent same, the government effect is to establish a de facto protest tax.” 

Individual protesters subjected to SPD’s unabated and indiscriminate violence now must purchase cost-prohibitive gear to withstand munitions -even when peacefully protesting -as a condition to exercising their right to free speech and peaceable assembly.”

Apparently, the group’s definition of peaceable assembly is confused with illegal and violent riot.  That type of confusion can happen when they live out their lives in a basement. 

The plaintiffs in this ridiculous lawsuit want a judge to prevent the Seattle Police Department from using any tactics which would be done to quell a riot. 

If the criminals somehow win this lawsuit, it will effectually end any ability of the police department in stopping any riots that occur in the future. 

Consider, the amount of buildings that were on fire during this incident allowed to go up in smoke and kill the occupants all while the officers have to stand by and watch, who will be to blame then?

In anticipation of such a move, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best warned the residents of the city of the inability for her agency to protect them from violence. In a letter, Best said in speaking of the ordinance preventing the use of chemical agents:

“Simply put, the legislation give officers NO ability to safely intercede to preserve property in the midst of a large, violent crowd.” 

In other words, Best is telling everyone with these tools being taken away through ordinance or a court order, there is no feasible way for police officers to stop property damage or rioting. 

Seattle: 200 protesters try to protest at police chief’s home – neighbors use own vehicles to block the crowd

SEATTLE, WA- On Saturday night, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best’s residence in Snohomish County was targeted by a large group of aggressive protesters. The next day, she implored City Council-members in a letter to stand up for what is right.

In the letter, she said:

“My neighbors were concerned by such a large group, but they were successful in ensuring the crowd was not able to trespass or engage in other illegal behavior in the area, despite repeated attempts to do so.”

She explained:

“I urge both of you and the entire council to stand up for what is right. These direct actions against elected officials and especially civil servants like myself are out of line and go against every democratic principle that guides our nation.”

Best said:

“Before this devolves into the new way of doing business by mob rule here in Seattle and across the nation, elected officials like you must forcefully call for the end of these tactics.”

There were about 200 people that protested in Best’s neighborhood and by the time the deputies arrived, which was about 8:30 p.m., most of the protesters had dispersed or left the area. Chief Best was not home when the protesters were there.

She said:

“When the people showed up to my house, it certainly felt very personal about me. It really does seem like a mob mentality and bullying, to intimidate a public official.”

Neighbors were able to use their own vehicles to block the protesters from moving further down the street where Chief Best’s home is located. Jamie and Whitney Roulstone live on the quiet street and said that they saw close to 40 vehicles wrapped around the corner.

Jamie said:

“It was not peaceful. They were here to intimidate. Scare people and scare children. There were children out there and they were asking them what schools they went to. They were yelling the most horribe things you’ve ever heard in your entire life.”

In a statement, Sheriff Adam Fortney said:

“I spoke with Chief Best on the phone who was not at the residence at the time. I assured her that the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office would deploy whatever resources were necessary to protect her, her family, and her property. I am pleased to report this group decided to disperse and there were no other incidents last night.”

The Roulstone’s said Chief Best attended a neighborhood meeting the following day to apologize and thank her neighbors. Jamie said:

“She couldn’t believe what the neighborhood did for her. She apologized that this even came here. I told her don’t apologize. We need to apologize to you that this is even happening, it’s unacceptable.”

Whitney said:

“We admire her. We see what she’s doing. She’s doing a great job. That this has happened, on her behalf here, we as a neighborhood are rallying behind her.”

According to KOMO News, in recent weeks protesters have rallied at the homes of some city council members as well as the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. While protesting at Mayor Durkan’s house, demonstrators demanded to see a different in Seattle. They claimed she has not been doing enough.

As demonstrators protested outside Mayor Durkan’s house, they used chants, signs, and speeches to make it clear that they wanted change and that they demanded the defunding of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) by 50%. 

Back in July, when demands to defund the police from protesters first began, almost seven out of nine city council members said that they supported cutting the police budget by 50%. Chief Best called the idea “reckless” and reiterated that she is against the potential budget cuts to her department. Best said:

“If we are asked to cut 50% of our department overnight, we will be forced into decision that do not serve our shared long-term goal of re-envisioning community safety.”

Best also said that defunding the police department by 50% is simply unrealistic. She said:

“I do not believe we should be asking the people of Seattle to test out a theory, that crime goes away if police goes away. That is completely reckless.”

She also said that budget cuts that deep would mean job loss, closing the southwest precinct, and refocusing bike units and anti-crime teams on 911 response.

The protesting in Chief Best’s neighborhood comes right before the city council-members begin a new round of discussions for cutting the SPD’s upcoming budget. Allegedly, a resolution to the budget is now in place and there are dozens of amendments for council members to sort through over the upcoming several days.

Speaking of mob rule… check out what’s happening in Louisville, Kentucky.

“There comes a time in life that you have to make a stand and you have to really prove your convictions and what you believe in. All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?” 

These are the words written on the Facebook page of Fernando Martinez, the Cuban-born co-owner of the Ole Restaurant Group. 

His words were in response to the demands made of him and numerous other business owners in the Cuban community in Louisville.

They recently received a letter of demands from Black Lives Matter protestors in the district where he opened their newest restaurant, La Bodeguita de Mima. The area is known for its locally-owned shops and restaurants. Martinez said that in addition to the letter, he was confronted by protestors recently.

Louisville has been a hotbed of BLM activity since the death of Breonna Taylor earlier this year, after an alleged”no-knock” warrant served by the Louisville Police Department. 

He called the demands “mafia tactics”.

Those demands came with a contract for obliging business owners to sign. 

Here is an idea of what these protestors were looking for. 

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the letter included:  

–  Adequately represent the Black population of Louisville by having a minimum of 23% Black staff;

–  Purchase a minimum of 23% inventory from Black retailers or make a recurring monthly donation of 1.5% of net sales to a local Black nonprofit or organization;

–  Require diversity and inclusion training for all staff members on a bi-annual basis;

–  And display a visible sign that increases awareness and shows support for the reparations movement.

Yes, you read that correctly. They want businesses to put up signage saying that they support reparations among numerous outrageous “requests”.

The article also stated: 

“According to a press release, members of the city’s Cuban community will meet outside the NuLu restaurant at 4 p.m. Sunday to support the immigrant-owned business, which ‘has been subject to vandalism and extortion in recent days.’

The release states that La Bodeguita de Mima was forced to close July 24 during a demonstration that shut down East Market Street, at which several protesters presented Martinez with the list of demands and said he ‘better put the letter on the door so your business is not f*cked with.’

The restaurant remained closed the next two days because ‘management and staff were concerned about safety,’ according to the release. ’30+ staff members (mostly immigrants) were unable to earn a paycheck.

But, in typical fashion, Phelix Crittenden, an activist who works with Black Lives Matter Louisville, said the demands were “not meant to be a threat, but instead, were merely intended to start a conversation with owners about how their businesses can better reflect and support Black people”.

Yes, smashing flower pots in front of the stores and telling business owners that they need to comply are run the risk of having their businesses “f*cked with” is in no way threatening or intimidating. 

According to the LCJ:

“Crittenden, who also founded the organization Blacks Organizing Strategic Success, said several NuLu business owners have volunteered to sign the contract created by the protesters and are open to discussing their roles in the gentrification of the area, which has undergone hundreds of millions of dollars in development in recent years.

‘NuLu is flourishing,’ Crittenden said. ‘To see that literal line in the sand, as soon as you cross the street, it’s very disturbing. NuLu doesn’t reflect the community they sit in and claim to incorporate and serve.'”

But the letter does more than just demand things. It goes so far as to blame the business owners for the plight of the black community. 

“The residents of Louisville, Kentucky are standing strong, educated, and together to express the destruction your business has caused to low-income communities, specifically those with majority Black residents.  We therefore demand representation and reparations in the NuLu business district of Louisville for the gentrification that has taken place.

 
The policies and processes of the revitalization of NuLu has displaced marginalized people from homes their families have often resided for generations, single handedly progressing the gentrification of Black neighborhoods.
 
Gentrification is a palatable term that sugar-coats one more aspect of an oppressive system targeted at Black Folx [sic] for 400 years. We are here today to demand representation over tokenism.
 
Here is what they expect businesses to acknowledge. 
 
acknowledge that the original residents of Louisville’s Clarkdale community, which was demolished to make way for NuLu, have been harmed by displacement and the resulting loss of
community connection, representation, and support.
 
acknowledge that my business has played part in the harm done to Clarksdale’s original residents, who have received no economic benefit from our occupation.
 
Displaced Clarksdale residents are denied the employment opportunities promised by the gentrifiers [sic] who destroyed their community. 
 
Instead, they have been effectively banned, through economic disparity and intentional policies, from the communities they built and the neighborhoods where they grew up.
 
acknowledge that Clarksdale’s original community members were replaced by business owners and clientele uneducated about the history of the space they now occupy.
 
acknowledge that many of Clarksdale’s original residents were repatriated into communities where their presence and identity have not been validated, but rather, have been actively rejected.
 
am, therefore, committed to participating in remediation for the harm that gentrification has caused to the original residents of the Clarksdale community, in terms of representation, education.
and validation.”
 
Yet, somehow they claim to be only about fighting “systemic police brutality.”
 
It’s not just in Louisville.  The same thing is happening in Madison, Wisconsin as we previously reported.
 
Pay up… or you’ll pay.
 
That was essentially the message to business owners from a Black Lives Matter activist, according to the FBI – who has now arrested him.Devonere Johnson, a vocal protester for Black Lives Matter, was apparently staying in Wisconsin recently and taking part in the civil unrest. 
 
If this was not enough, Johnson allegedly began demanding local businesses provide he and his friends free food and services. In addition, he also demanded protection money to the owners, if they refused to pay them, he threatened to break windows and damage their business. 
 
The FBI was called into investigate and charged him for extorting businesses.
 
Some of Johnson’s charges are based on his actions in a local tavern in Wisconsin. 
 
Cooper’s Tavern, a local bar in the area, Johnson and an unknown man were found sitting at the tables playing a loud radio. The owner spoke with him and informed Johnson that he supported the Black Lives Matter movement in the area. 
 
Johnson replied, according to court documents from the FBI:
 
“What have you done here locally?” 
 
Johnson then demanded protection money and likened the owner and his employees as members of the Ku Klux Klan if they did not pay. The intimidation did not stop there as Johnson returned to the same venue twice this past Tuesday. 
 
While inside, on video, Johnson is seen yelling into a bull horn allegations that the bar and the staff were racist. One of them men with Johnson is seen with a bat with the words “Black Lives Matter” inscribed.
 
According to court documents, Johnson said:
 
“Just give us some free food and beer and we can end this now.  You don’t want 600 people to come here and destroy your business and burn it down.  The cops are on our side.  You notice that when you call them, nothing happens to us.”
 
Officers did respond to the area and placed Johnson under arrest for disorderly conduct while armed, resisting arrest and attempting to flee while on active probation. Johnson physically resisted the officers lawful attempts at taking him into custody and had to be taken to the ground in order to place him in handcuffs.
 
 Once he was in custody, Johnson began yelling that he could not breathe and continually asked why he was being arrested. The federal charges against Johnson for extortion could carry a maximum sentence of forty years in prison. In an interview with WMTV, the Department of Justice US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin in the case, Scott Blader, alleges:
 
“The threats were made that suggested that if he [the business owner] did not donate money to a Venmo account, that, in fact, they would be back, that they would cause disturbances and that, in fact, their business would suffer because of that.” 
 
Blader told NBC15:
 
“When people no longer feel like they have the option to freely do what they have to do and if they don’t do it, that they, in fact, will suffer adverse consequences, and therefore they feel they must– that’s extortion.”
 
“It’s certainly right and expected that people have the ability to express their voices, but that stops when you begin to commit a crime, when you start to put people in harm or you begin to threaten property,” Blader said.
 
“When that occurs, that’s a crime, that’s where the Department of Justice steps in. That’s where we’ll enforce the law.”
 
Johnson has been arrested a few times in the past, namely for an incident over a cell phone purchase. Johnson and three others met with two people from Chicago in order to buy two cell phones from them. 
 
The problem was, Johnson nor his friends had any intention of purchasing anything, but rather rob the phones from the victims. Johnson and his three accomplices held the pair from Chicago at gun point and eventually shot at them as they fled.  Instead of being convicted of armed robbery and attempted murder, the courts dropped it down to theft.
 
What will happen to Johnson when this case goes to trial is unknown, but what is known is that his arrest sparked more outrage in the area.  People rushed to the streets demanding that Johnson be released from custody. 
 
When he was not, they began tearing down statutes in the area and defacing property. Instead of calling for calm in the Wisconsin area, Democratic Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes decided to blame republicans for the unrest. Barnes said in a now deleted tweet:
 
“I stand by my objection to violence against innocent people in all forms. But what I’m not about to do is open this app and see the same far right provocateurs who have used every bit of bandwidth to broaden the chasm of race relations in this state chime in as if they haven’t pushed people to this moment.” 
 
Perhaps, instead of blaming violence on a specific group of people, like some groups in our country are fighting, maybe it is time to deal with the situation.Wondering why he thinks the law is on his side?
 

Perhaps we need to look no further than Seattle.So much for those arrests that took place when police made sweeps through Seattle’s CHOP zone on July 1st. Reports indicate that some of those who were arrested in defiance of the orders to disperse were back on the streets shortly thereafter.https://twitter.com/komonews/status/1279045478500335617

According to reports, there were 44 people arrested during the sweep that took place during the early morning hours of July 1st in the zone once known as CHOP in Seattle.One of the people arrested, Rashyla Levitt, was said to have only been held for mere hours after her arrest during the sweep for charges of failure to disperse.https://twitter.com/choeshow/status/1278423724795052032

By July 2nd, Levitt was already taking to the streets once again to engage in protests, saying the following about her release:

 
“We are back with the fire and we are ready to go.”
 
Levitt continued, noting that whatever was ongoing in CHOP was some sort of “movement” for “the people”:
 
“This is the people’s movement and we are gonna keep being part of the people and pushing this movement forward.”
 

While the charge was only a misdemeanor, many are concerned within the area that Levitt’s release is going to be that of a trend for those taken into custody during the CHOP clearing operation.Considering that those arrested on site during the sweep were among those refusing to leave (among other charges) – a expedient release could morph into an expedient reassembling of the miscreants.https://twitter.com/PatrickQuinnTV/status/1278769548192215041

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, while having been the one responsible for clearing out CHOP weeks after it had formed and went unchecked until murders occurred, still managed to sneak in some pandering toward the lawless group that inhabited the area when commenting on the Seattle Police’s arrests that occurred on July 1st:

 
“I fully support SPD’s operations this morning and the arrests and bookings were appropriate. But as we move forward in healing, alternatives to charging and criminal sanctions are also important.”
 

So even after weeks of assaults, vandalism, robberies, and murders – Seattle’s mayor is still looking to extend friendly consideration toward a group of people that seized several city blocks and terrorized residents in the area.https://twitter.com/MDee123456/status/1278451473345626115

City Attorney Pete Holmes said that of those who were arrested for misdemeanor crimes during the CHOP sweep, they’d be eligible to have their charges dropped if they participate in a “diversion program.

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