The video of U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle making the proclamation has been released. Watch it here.
Robart, who is overseeing a 2012 consent decree requiring the city to adopt reforms to address Department of Justice allegations of excessive force and biased policing, presided over the Aug. 15 hearing to discuss the progress of the reforms. Reacting to the Seattle police union’s rejection of a tentative contract with the city, Robart said he would not let the labor group hold the city “hostage” by linking wages to constitutional policing.
“To hide behind a collective-bargaining agreement is not going to work,” Robart said.
Robart ended the hearing with personal remarks, in which he noted a statistic that showed, nationally, 41 percent of the shootings by police were of blacks, when they represent 20 percent of the population.
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“Black lives matter,” he said, drawing a startled, audible reaction in a courtroom listening to the words coming from a federal judge sitting on the bench.
Robart also referenced other ethnic groups and police officers: “Black people are not alone in this. Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans are also involved. And lastly, and importantly, police deaths in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and let’s not forget Lakewood, Washington, remind us of the importance of what we are doing.”
He also said the recent shootings of police officers, including in Dallas, Baton Rouge and, in 2009, of four Lakewood, Pierce County, officers, reflected the importance of the work being done to heal police and community relations.