SEATTLE, WA – The city of Seattle, Washington, like Portland, Oregon, has been the scene of numerous protests and riots since the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The violence against police officers in those areas are increasing, with reports of members of the riot throwing explosive devices at officers. Now, the Seattle Police Department has started making arrests, nabbing 16 people after a riot on October 3rd.
HAPPENING NOW: Antifa Militants and Black Lives Matter Rioters break into and launch fireworks inside Starbucks.@SeattlePD declared this protest a riot and issued an order to disperse. #seattleprotests pic.twitter.com/lrFguvqRBX
— Katie Daviscourt?? (@KatieDaviscourt) October 4, 2020
The Seattle Police Department advised that the people who were arrested were charged with property destruction, assault and vandalism. The agency said:
“A group of protesters left Cal Anderson Park shortly after 9 PM Saturday heading North. A few members of the group were seen committing acts of vandalism and property damage along the way.”
The group spray painted vulgar messages of their anti-police rhetoric. In one picture, someone from the group painted, “Save a life, Hang a Cop.” Additional violent anti police spray painting was found, calling for people to “kill cops.”
The group also is accused of breaking the windows of a coffee shop and throwing some type of incendiary device inside. Based upon the unlawful actions of the group, Seattle Police Commanders declared a riot and ordered the group to leave.
BREAKING: Seattle Antifa are destroying a Starbucks
— ELIJAH SCHAFFER (@ElijahSchaffer) October 4, 2020
After some members of the group refused to leave, officers moved in and began to disperse the crowd. This of course was met with more violence against the police from the rioters.
Seattle police said:
“Commanders declared the protest was an unlawful assembly, issued a dispersal order, and officers began moving the crowd out of the area. As the group moved Eastbound along East Olive Way an explosive was thrown at officers.”
It would appear that none of the officers were hit by the explosive device or in the riot. Officers did advise that they arrested 16 different people for various law violation as a result of the riot.
The interim Police Chief for Seattle, Adrian Diaz, is calling for the nightly rioting to end. He said:
“If there are people going out and peacefully protesting, we will help facilitate that peaceful protest. But if they are coming to create this mayhem, we are going to address this mayhem.”
The ongoing riots and protests that are plaguing the City of Seattle are also causing a significant strain on the police department’s resources. Some of these shortages are due to current mode of defunding the agency.
Diaz reported that his agency is forced to conduct staffing changes in order to have the appropriate number of officers in patrol. This means downsizing specialty units and transferring roughly 100 officers back to patrol.
In addition to staffing shortages, Diaz also notes that the morale in the police department is at all time lows. He said:
“I’d be wrong to say morale is good. It’s low. We have many officers unsure if they will have a job, so they’re applying with other agencies. Another set of officers don’t feel supported by our city. So that impacts morale. Being short-staffed impacts morale.”
Having low morale is an issue that the Seattle Police Department will most likely have for a long time. After all, the council has made it clear they have no intentions of significantly defunding the agency, that means that a large portion of the newer officers will be out of a job coming at the start of the next fiscal year.
There also would be no hiring to replace the number of officers that are leaving the agency, either through their own choice or through layoffs. That would mean that the officers who are currently working in Seattle will be taking on a much larger role than they are accustomed to in order to provide public safety services.
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Seattle Human Rights Commission demands resignation from the mayor for authorizing “the use of police violence”
October 11, 2020
SEATTLE, WA- A letter from the Seattle Human Rights commission is calling on feckless Mayor Jenny Durkan to resign, or short of that the city council must start the process to remove her from office for willful violation of duty under the city charter, according to MyNorthwest.
The letter claims that Durkan has “failed to uphold her duty to serve and protect the rights of Seattle citizens.”
The letter cites actions related to alleged police brutality, homelessness, income inequality and city governance.
“It is our duty to speak up and speak out for our least privileged community members, and not to be complicit in the harm done to them by City leadership,” the letter said while citing in part recent Durkan vetoes.
“Given this, it is our belief that we cannot wait until November of 2021 to remove Mayor Durkan from office and replace her with a servant-leader who will uphold their duty to protect the right of all citizens,” the letter continued while referring to next year’s election, The Seattle Times reported.
The Times reported that eight out of the 15 commissioners were present at the meeting last week to vote on the letter, which was worked on for about a month, according to co-chair Liz Pachaud. The eight voted unanimously to send the letter, she said.
“Mayor Durkan has been leading the city at an unprecedented moment through a pandemic, civil rights reckoning, climate crisis, and the worst economic crisis that Seattle has faced in generations,” responded Durkan spokesperson Kelsey Nyland in a statement.
“We have been showing progress on every front but the urgency remains and more needs to be done.”
The Washington Times reported that the letter further accuses Durkan of committing “violations of constitutional and human rights” in part by authorizing “the use of police violence and tools of military force against peaceful demonstrators, civilian bystanders, legal observers and members of the media.”
In addition, the letter says that tear gas and similar weapons “are so toxic that they are currently banned for use in warfare.”
Durkan’s office noted that the city charter delegates management of the police department to the Chief of Police, not the mayor. Durkan did order the department to review their crowd-management policies in June.
The commission, established in 1963, is comprised of 21 representatives, who serve “in an advisory capacity” to city leaders in the mayor’s office, city council, the Office for Civil Rights, and others.
Eight of the members are appointed by the mayor, while eight more are appointed by the city council. The final four members are selected by the commission itself. The 21st member changes each year and is chosen from among a leadership development program for 18 to 29-year-olds.
Aside from the above, the commission also objected to Durkan’s hesitation to “proposed reductions to SPD’s budget” (Seattle Police Department).
In addressing the last point, the mayor’s office statement read:
“The Mayor and former Chief Best disagreed with City Council’s pledge to defund SPD by 50 percent and the cuts to the Chief of Police and their team’s salaries. While the Seattle Human Rights Commission may disagree with the Mayor’s veto and her position that we cannot defund SPD by 50 percent, Mayor Durkan believes we must get beyond slogans to work towards solutions to these immense challenges.
“Understanding the complexity of these issues facing our City, the Mayor has offered her vision, plan and path forward on each of these challenges including reimagining policing and investing in BIPOC communities with an unprecedented $100 million. The Mayor has worked to find a common path forward on each of these challenges and will continue to do so.
The Mayor continues to be focused on how to provide support for small businesses and workers who have lost their jobs, transmitting the City’s 2021 budget, slowing the spread of COVID-19, making real investments for BIPOC communities, and changing Seattle’s approach to policing and community safety. She welcomes a conversation with the Human Rights Commission to find common ground and policy solutions, even when we disagree.”
The removal request is being requested pursuant to Section 10 of Seattle’s City Charter, whereby a mayor can be removed from office by a two-thirds vote of the city council “for any willful violation of duty, or for the commission of an offense involving moral turpitude.”
The charter continues that the mayor is permitted to retain legal representation, “to offer evidence and be heard” by the council, which basically acts as a court of impeachment.
In June while the Black Lives Matter riots were overwhelming the city, three members of the city council called on Durkan to resign, with councilmember Kshama Sawant calling on Durkan to resign or be removed while promising to introduce articles of impeachment.
Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Tammy Morales suggested Durkan step down.
At that time, a petition circulated which collected more than 11,000 signatures calling on Durkan to resign, while a union which represents supermarket workers in Seattle, UFCW 21 also called on Durkan to resign.
In addition, several local Democratic Party groups also passed resolutions asking for her resignation. Durkan refused to step down, Sawant didn’t introduce impeachment articles, and the other two councilmembers stopped pushing the issue.
In July, Durkan reversed the issue, asking the city council to investigate alleged misdeeds by Sawant, which the council declined to pursue.
According to MyNorthwest, much of what the HRC is complaining about is easy to dispute.
For example, while the commission said that Durkan “has failed to adequately Seattle’s growing homelessness crisis,” and failed to “find and fund progressive revenue streams promised in her campaign for mayor, her proposed budget indicates otherwise.
Durkan has proposed in her 2021 budget a record $152 million for homeless response, including adding hundreds of new beds and 600 new permanent supportive housing units, while a continuation of funding 2,300 existing shelter beds.
MyNorthwest says that when Durkan was sworn in, spending on the homeless was about $71 million, which doubled to $147.5 million last year.
She also has implemented enhanced shelter models, while also seeking to take a more regional approach to the homeless situation.
The commission also complained that Durkan has struggled to adopt budgets, however she has implemented at least two, 2018-19 and 2019-20, although they haven’t always agreed on the specific priorities of the budgets.
The second, separate attempt to recall Durkan is for similar grievances. That particular effort is tied up in the Washington Supreme Court awaiting a ruling on whether the gathering of signatures can continue in the next few weeks.
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