A pro-police crowd organized by the Seattle Police Officers Guild gathered outside of Seattle City Hall on Sunday in support of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) ahead of today’s vote to slash the city’s law enforcement budget.
The Seattle City Council has been discussing defunding the police for weeks now, following protests that ignited after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters have demanded that funds currently going toward the Seattle Police Department be re-allocated to other places in the community, such as affordable housing and living wages.
Seven of nine Seattle City Councilmembers have openly supported and advocated a 50% decrease in police department budget. While they will likely not meet that goal for the remainder of the 2020 year, they are eyeing the 2021 budget for the full 50% decrease.
For the remainder of the 2020 year, the Council is looking to approve the layoffs of 100 SPD officers, a nearly $1,000,000 decrease to the remaining budget (which includes $36,000 taken from the implicit bias training), capping command staff pay at $150,000, and ending the Navigation Team.
Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez took to Twitter to advocate for this slash in the budget. “You cannot reform something that is fundamentally broken,” she said of the SPD.
She said that she and the Council are ready and willing to work with the Mayor and SPD Chief Best to “uproot the harmful systems that have continued to oppress Black and Indigenous communities, and lay the foundation for new systems to be built that center the humanity, healing, and growth of BIPOC communities.”
Despite these many differences in ideologies and values, we remain open to working with the Executive. We are standing at the ready to work with the Mayor and Chief Best to can show leadership by finding a pathway forward
— Council President M. Lorena González (Seattle) (@CMLGonzalez) August 6, 2020
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has been in support of decreasing the SPD’s budget, but she has been resistant to as much as the 50% that the City Council is looking for, for which she has received much backlash.
SPD Chief Best – Seattle’s first African-American woman to lead the SPD – has criticized the Council’s efforts to defund the police as well, recently writing a letter to advocate for her department and to attempt to work with the city in the midst of violent riots.
Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, appeared on Fox News over the weekend to discuss the budget cut proposals.
The budget cuts would result in “a rise in 911 wait times, a rise in crime,” he said.
“Almost three months ago now, the president of the City Council and the mayor were applauding this agency as being the most progressive agency as being the most progressive agency in the nation, leading on training, leading on de-escalation…”
Solan called this new budget agenda “total political pandering,” and said that we’ll see more of it come 2021.
The Seattle Police Officer’s Guild is asking locals to sign their “Stop the Defunding of the Seattle Police Department” petition, which now has over 150,000 signatures, to show the City Council that it is not a majority asking for the extreme budget cuts.
Pro-police protesters were met on Sunday with counter-protestors. The SPD kept the two groups separated.
The vote on the remaining 2020 budget is scheduled to occur later this afternoon.