South Seattle Emerald
(This article was originally published on The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog and has been reprinted under an agreement)
Seven of the nine Seattle City Council members say they will support the effort to reduce the Seattle Police budget by 50%, the key component of demands from activists and community groups after weeks of Black Lives Matter protests, marches, and rallies in the Pacific Northwest.
The important threshold would represent a veto-proof majority on any council action as the representatives shape major changes to the city’s budget in the face of predictions of a significant downturn in revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis — a rebalancing process planned to be finalized and voted on in the next two weeks.
The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reported on Wednesday’s council budget committee session’s deep dive into SPD spending and the strong support for #defundSPD voiced during public testimony. Massively reducing spending on policing has been at the center of demands during weeks of protests and demonstrations around Seattle in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
“We’ve seen a lot of unrest over the last six weeks, much of it built upon generations of struggle for Black liberation,” activist and lawyer Nikkita Oliver said in a media conference hosted Thursday by the two coalitions driving the #defundSPD effort and a spending plan for the diverted funds “We are, though, at a very significant moment as this movement continues to grow and seeing the discussion of defund the police be more than a chant in the street.”
The Decriminalize Seattle group and the King County Equity Now Coalition have unveiled a new four-point plan that activists says would best reallocate money currently spent on patrol officers for community needs including major changes to how Seattle’s 911 system works and social initiatives including housing:
The call to scale up community-led solutions highlights and honors the expertise that already exists in community, while also drawing attention to the consistent under-resourcing of many of the organizations and projects that are actually best equipped to serve communities that are disinvested in and consistently brutalized by the police. Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now organizers believe that with appropriate funding created by defunding the police, existing organizations that already have accountable, rooted community relationships will be able to scale up, while also building from trusted relationships to create the proposed community roadmap to life without policing.