Now that Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has vetoed overly-hasty cuts to the police budget passed by the City Council, both council members and the mayor are taking a few days off. We should all hope that, when they return to work, the confrontation between Seattle’s mayor and the council majority can be resolved.
The stakes are too high. Protests against violence perpetrated against Black Americans by police have swept the country ever since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis earlier this year. A police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this week sparked violent demonstrations that led to the murder of two protesters at the hands of a pro-cop vigilante. Seattle has endured a summer of peaceful marches, street occupations, occasional destruction and looting, as well as deadly shootings.
Action is clearly needed to heal the toxic relationship between Seattle’s Black community and our police, but the council’s rushed action to slash the police budget did not please anyone but the most militant activists. A much broader range of community voices needs to be heard to design intelligent change with genuine public safety as the goal – safety for Black Americans and other groups who have suffered under an overly-aggressive police training regime, safety for all the cops who have been asked to do too much to contain festering social problems and safety for everyone who calls Seattle home.
No one wants Seattle to go the way of Kenosha.
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