Re: “Seattle City Council rebalances 2020 budget, passes initial Police Department cuts” [Aug. 10, Northwest]:
Initially, I wasn’t sure about going on the Aug. 5 march calling for police defunding — I have a relatively high confidence in the Seattle City Council (relative, at least, to the mayor) to act in roughly the way I would hope. Though their Seattle Police Department budget cuts this year aren’t nearly as comprehensive as I had hoped, the obstacles facing the council seemed significant.
Eventually, I decided I had to march. It isn’t up to me whether the council’s efforts are “enough.” I’m white. Being pulled over isn’t life-threatening to me; I haven’t seen family members swallowed up by the criminal legal system. I don’t get to decide when Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) are comfortable. Nor do white city council members, nor does Mayor Jenny Durkan. By expecting activist groups to settle for less than their demands, these officials become the “white moderate[s]” Martin Luther King Jr. described “who paternalistically [believe they] can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.”
To the extent, then, that I can support the efforts of BIPOC to achieve freedom on their own timetable and terms, I must, as must any white elected official.
Ian Olson, Seattle