“Block-the-Bunker” activists who oppose construction of the pricey North Precinct station expanded on their views at Seattle City Hall on Monday, urging the city not to hire more officers, among other issues.
Seattle activists taking part in the “Block-the-Bunker” campaign against the city’s construction of an expensive new North Precinct police station expanded on their views Monday, halting a City Council meeting in order to make themselves heard.
They told the council to stop King County from building a new youth-detention center in Seattle, curb Mayor Ed Murray’s plan to grow the size of the city’s police force and invest more money instead in community-based social solutions and housing.
Murray and council members last week put the $149 million North Precinct station project on hold.
In effect, they gave way to pressure from people who object to the city’s spending $149 million on a police department still working to carry out court-ordered reforms related to excessive use of force, and from others merely critical of the price tag.
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Several dozen activists, many wearing black shirts, spoke during the public-comment period at the start of the council’s Monday afternoon meeting.
“We have three demands and we’re not going to stop,” Rashad Barber said.
“We’re not going to stop until the bunker is completely abolished. We’re not going to stop until there’s no new youth jail,” Barber added, also mentioning the goal of stopping the city from hiring more police officers.
The council moved on to its agenda, which included passing a “secure-scheduling” law for retail and fast-food workers.
But not everyone was able to speak during the comment period, so activists shouted, “If we’re not heard, we’ll shut it down” and other chants. Council President Bruce Harrell stopped the meeting.
Most council members left, but Harrell, Kshama Sawant and Mike O’Brien stayed to listen. For two hours, activists took turns speaking.
Nikkita Oliver urged the council to allocate more money for schools, community centers and alternatives to incarceration, such as restorative-justice programs.
“We seek to disarm, defund and demilitarize the police,” said a nurse who talked about the Chinatown International District. “Police violence cannot solve the issue of public safety … The Seattle Police Department is part of a criminal-justice system that targets the most marginalized. Expanding it will hurt our communities.”