Pledges to continue to fight for police accountability and help fund LEAD, restorative justice programs
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who is running for her second re-election from Seattle City Council District 3, announced today that she will not be attending the October 9 candidate forum organized by the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG).
The Vote Sawant campaign reported that the Councilmember will instead be attending the Police Accountability candidate forum on October 16, and that Councilmember Sawant will continue supporting community organizations advocating for police accountability and using the People’s Budget 2019 campaign to increase funds for non-incarceration and restorative justice programs, such as the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.
Councilmember Sawant said, “It is unfortunate that the rest of the City Council ratified a police contract last year that rolled back the hard-fought accountability, despite opposition from more than two-dozen community groups, and a joint statement from 40 from union members and leaders. As a public-sector union member myself, I strongly believe wage and benefit increases cannot be pitted against the need for workers to also stand united against racism, and the best moments of the labor movement have seen workers of all races and genders fight together for workplace rights and against oppression.”
“Both the political establishment and SPOG bear responsibility. SPOG has opposed any genuine discussion about accountability on numerous occasions. They pushed hard for the $160 million expansion of a police precinct, which was opposed by the #BlockTheBunker coalition and affordable housing advocates. They filed an unfair labor complaint against the City, and took out a full page Seattle Times ad calling on firing City Attorney Pete Holmes for trying to introduce body cameras. SPOG remained silent as their national affiliate endorsed Trump.”
Community Leader and 2017 Seattle Mayoral Candidate Nikkita Oliver said: “It is impossible to believe the Mayor and Police Chief's narrative of a reformed, more accountable SPD when the negotiated collective bargaining agreement effectively erodes away at the accountability legislation and protections for communities impacted by police brutality. Additionally, inviting right-wing groups like Safe Seattle to a closed-door, invite-only forum on public safety reveals to whom SPOG perceives itself to be accountable, and is emblematic of SPD's continued unwillingness to in good faith engage and earnestly hear from communities impacted by over-policing and police brutality on the issue of public safety; communities who have demanded and will continue to demand the City's divestment from the militarized police force and investment in community based alternatives and supports.”
With Chamber of Commerce funded candidates talking about “tracking systems” for homeless people, and echoing Republican “broken windows” talking points on crime, the Vote Sawant campaign is taking police accountability and public safety seriously.
Just this week, Deputy Seattle Police Chief Marc Garth Green tried to justify prioritizing arresting sex workers over expanding funding for community-based support services and alternatives to the criminal legal system like LEAD, by shockingly saying “And that comes from my experience of actually working the street up there and talking to the young lady who specifically told me that she was there to make money and enjoyed it.”
“Far too often, the conversation on police accountability has had to start at the grassroots level in the wake of tragic events, with the political establishment rushing to catch up, and the SPOG standing in opposition. I stand with the Movement for Black Lives, which has called for independently elected community oversight boards with full powers over police departments,” Councilmember Sawant added.