Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Seia, Rev. Harriet Walden, Rev. Aaron Williams, Suzette Dickerson, La Rond Baker, Prachi Dave, Emma Catague, Colleen Echohawk, Erin Goodman, Monisha Harrell, Esther Lucero, Natasha Moore, Mark Mullens, Alina Santillan
Staff Present: Shayleen Morris, Jesse Franz, Brandy Grant
There was public input. Rev. Aaron Williams and Prachi Dave read several questions that members of the public had sent to the Commission. The questions were read one after the other. They tended to address matters such as the fact that the CPC does not have public comments; that there are no public meetings, and police abuse continues unabated in the community. Also there were questions about crowd control during demonstrations and how First Amendment rights were being impacted by the use of force.
After the questions were read, the various Commissioners addressed several of the points to clarify what the mandate of the Commission is and what is allowed by their bylaws.
Esther Lucero asked if they could have a print out the questions so that all the Commissioners would be able to respond. She noted that they should be responsive.
Rev. Walden pointed out that the mission of the Commission can be found by the public on their website.
Then there was a motion to approve the agenda and another to approve the minutes of the previous meeting. Both were passed.
Action Item Update
Action items were reviewed and it was noted that the filing on August 22th was sent to the Court regarding the resolution about journalists' notes and videos being subpoenaed by the City.
Rev. Williams noted that they had received some public comments, and he proceeded to acknowledge the authors by name as he read them. (See "Public Comment")
Updates from DOJ, Monitor, City Council, Mayor
The DOJ had no update. Neither the Monitor nor any City Council representative was in attendance. Austin Miller represented the Mayor’s Office and said that the Mayor had vetoed the Budget and if the Commissioners had any questions about that, he would be happy to answer them.
Jesse Franz, head of Communication, asked if there was a timeline for search for a permanent Police Chief. So far, there seems not to be.
Alina Santillan referenced the Navigation team dealing with homelessness and questioned the Mayor’s position on why it shouldn’t be removed. Franz responded that the Mayor’s position is that there is no viable alternative up and running, and so it would be premature to remove it.
Esther Lucero asked, regarding the Navigation team and the Defund team, and drug and sex trafficking: In the homeless encampment near them, there are 18 individuals who qualify for “a leave” services (note: The League Observer was unsure about the meaning of that term). Lucero said those services were intended when there were illegal activities in homeless sites. She asked if there was any movement about the next steps to take. Austin Miller said they are discussing what to do.
Prachi Dave said that now that some of their work was done, the staff had more time available to support Commissioners and sub-committees in need of their help. Also, there are pro bono attorneys who will give legal support to those groups.
Erin Goodman reported on the deep dive on the bylaws that her group has been working on for the past several weeks. They have been working with the City Attorney’s Office and the draft of the bylaws will be available in the next couple of weeks. She was thanked by Rev. Walden.
Work Group Updates
Demonstration Management + Defund Work Group
CPC Staff member Shayleen Morris reported that the Demonstration Management Work Group has been folded into the Defund Work Group, which Esther Lucero took over.
Esther Lucero thanked the staff for helping with the Defund evaluation. They will meet with SPD, the Mayor's Office, and Chief Diaz. There is a $150m budget gap. CPC recommendation is needed by Sept. 23. It was proposed that the CPC share or present on the consent decree and Council's positions. Chief Diaz seemed more responsive to the community.
Prachi Dave asked if there had been any additional conversations with Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now. She wants the CPC to be a resource for them. There was discussion about CPC staff member Nick Christian to connect with the community.
Committees on Police Accountability and Legislative Agenda
Colleen Echohawk is leading the Committee on Police Accountability and Legislative Agenda. ACLU is collaborating with them and one of the issues being discussed is collective bargaining. More information will be available in 2-3 weeks.
Brandy Grant and Jesse Franz spoke about the Communications Committee and the need for individual commissioners to be on the same page, especially new commissioners. There have been an increase in requests from the media, on social media, and direct contacts. Under Article 9 covering Public Statements, Co-Chairs are the official spokespeople for the CPC so all requests must go through them. Press releases must be approved by Co-Chairs. The Exec. Dir. should do blog posts and public comments. Under Article 3, there should be no reporting on alleged misconduct or comments on discipline that could influence the outcome of OPA investigations. Going forward, if media want the Commission's position on something, forward to the request to Jesse and make sure you are not speaking on behalf of the Commission.
Colleen Echohawk asked what would happen if the Co-Chair misrepresented the Commission. Brandy Grant replied that would be troublesome and acknowledged they wear several hats.
Erin Goodman noted that was discussed at the last meeting regarding new bylaws.
Monisha Harrrell stated they need to let the public know which hat they are wearing to be clear what perspective they are sharing.
Esther Lucero pointed to the layers of accountability.
Jesse Franz spoke about the drafting process, citing the CPC's statement from July 24 regarding police and protesters. CPC shared a video "When Police Can Lie". Jesse noted that communications are challenging because staffing is low so the process can be slow.
Rev. Walden thanked Jesse. Rev. Williams added that Jesse brought a lot of value to the CPC. Douglas Wagoner noted that even though communications needs had increased, they were meeting that challenge thanks to Jesse. They asked how they could help him. He asked them to send him messages about what needs to be covered.
Esther Lucero suggested more training on media communication techniques for the Co-Chairs.
Shayleen Morris asked for 1-on-1 conversations with each Commissioner to discuss policy issues and offered times. She suggested email was a good way to talk more and keep an open line of communication.
Agenda for Next Meeting
Monisha Harrell-When do SPOG contracts come up for discussion? Have these discussions started?
Austin Miller answered that the Mayor's Office was having conversations on next steps. Jesse Franz stated there have not been communications requests yet.
Douglas Wagoner asked where they were in the process of bringing the City back into compliance with the consent decree.
Monisha Harrell observed they had been sprinting, but need some rest time for proactive work to come, to plan what they will have to deal with in the future. Proposed taking the week of Labor Day off. She also identified that they should prioritize having a seat at the table when police contracts are negotiated.
Rev. Williams agreed this whole year they had just been in reactionary mode and that it was important to figure out how to be more proactive, anticipate fires.
Rev. Walden agreed too, but pointed out they were formed in response to an event.
Joseph Seia promoted the commitment to healing justice, noting that trauma shows up in all their work. Seattle is the center of cancel culture. There is a need to respond rapidly to the family, which is wrapped up in healing and relationships.
Rev. Williams cited the need for expertise of all the Commissioners. They want to be there regardless of what happens for the community. Each of them plays a vital role in enhancing the CPC.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
There were 30+ participants in the meeting - including commissioners and staff. The League Observer heard from commissioners and staff only and there did not appear to be formal time for public comment. CPC commissioners and staff were respectful and allowed to speak and express diverse opinions.
The CPC received several written public comments during the last week. A sampling:
Action Items Review
None, but the Observer allowed she may have missed something. The group mentioned something had been filed with the King County Police Officer's Association, but it was not clear what they were referencing.
DOJ/Monitor/City Council/Mayor Updates
- DOJ, no update
- Monitor, no one present;
- Council, no one present;
- Mayor's Office - A representative was present and noted that on 8/21/20 the mayor vetoed the rebalancing budget amendment passed by the City Council for 3 reasons:
One commissioner (from the public defender association) asked what subcommittees might need in terms of legal support and noted that there are attorneys that are willing to work with the commissioners pro bono. They are open to thoughts and ideas from the Commission.
Governance Committee - Met on 8/21/20. Committee is doing a deep dive into the CPC bylaws, attempting to cover all eventualities. The committee is meeting weekly and will soon have a draft of the revised bylaws.
Demonstration/Defund work group.
Legislative agenda and police accountability work group. They are working with the WA State ACLU and the Washington Coalition [unintelligible - perhaps the WA Coalition on Police Accountability] regarding use of force issues and collective bargaining and I-940.
Presentation/Discussion on CPC External Communications
CPC staff presented a PowerPoint on CPC‘s current external communication process with the media, social media and in response to direct contacts.
In sum, the co-chairs are the official spokespeople to the media, the views they provide must be the views of the majority of the CPC commission. The executive director and staff can handle social media, blog posts, etc. Individual commission members are free to voice opinions as long as they are clear they aren’t speaking on behalf of the CPC.
Later in the meeting, concerns were voiced that co-chairs might be inadvertently misrepresenting the collective CPC stance. The governance committee said that the changed bylaws will clarify. Also, reiterated was the CPC’s limitation regarding talking about specific cases of misconduct. They don’t have access to any non-public information. They can only discuss systemic issues related to misconduct.
In general, there are many challenges facing the CPC. Staffing is down, the number of issues the CPC is working on has expanded greatly this year and the CPC is regularly asked to respond rapidly to questions/issues which requires getting a consensus from 21 commission members.
Agenda items for the next meeting. They will have a response to the public comments. Also in this context was a question about SPOG contract talks. Mayor’s staff said that pre-negotiations are happening. CPC wants to know the city's plan for working with the CPC on contract negotiations, emphasizing that the CPC needs to have a seat at the table.
Virtual Meeting Highlights
There were 34+ participants in the meeting, including commissioners and staff. The League Observer believed only commissioners and staff spoke as there was no formal time for public comment. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions, etc. The Commission was dealing with multiple complex issues.
Action Items Review
No update from DOJ, the Monitor or the Council. Someone from the Mayor's Office expressed appreciation for allowing Mayor's Office to participate in the defund workgroup.
Governance Committee - Taking steps to hire a permanent director for the CPC.
Work Groups - Lots of room for people to join the workgroups. Also, it was agreed that each work group should have a Lead Commissioner with staff providing support.
Demonstration Management Committee - Demonstration management and defunding sub-groups have been combined. Staff for the CPC referred to a crowd control proposal that had been sent to everyone prior to the meeting which was discussed at length later in the meeting. They will be reaching out to the community next week and to service providers in anticipation of the fall deadline for the 2021 budget.
Legislative agenda and police accountability work group - They are looking at contracts, state and city legislative agenda, I-940 enforcement and police contracts, including the SPOG contract.
At the conclusion of the meeting one of the members asked that more information be presented by each of the subcommittees at the CPC meetings.
Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Joseph Seia, Reverend Harriet Walden, Suzette Dickerson, La Rond Baker, Prachi Dave, Scott Bachler, Emma Catague, Colleen Echohawk, Monisha Harrell, Esther Lucero, Mark Mullens, Alina Santillan .
Members Absent: Erin Goodman, Reverend Aaron Williams
Virtual Meeting Highlights
All Commissioners were attentive, courteous and prepared. There was no public input.
Action Item Updates
They announced that a letter had been sent to the City Attorney to withdraw the office’s attempt to subpoena journalists’ records.
They also have made recommendations to the City Council regarding crowd control during demonstrations.
They also mentioned that the CPC submitted its resolution about Mi’ Chance Dunlap-Gittens to the appropriate body
Updates from DOJ, Monitor, Council, Mayor
There were no updates from the DOJ or the City Monitor or the Council or the Mayor’s Office, although Austin Miller of the Mayor’s office thanked them for their work, and later Ron Miller, a Monitor, asked for copies of the minutes from prior meetings.
Reverend Walden thanks those who participated in the sub-committees for all their work on the above resolutions and asked for more members to participate in those committees.
Governance Committee: they have been moving on the revisions of the Commission’s bylaws and the effort to hire a permanent executive director of the Commission.
Demonstration and Defund Committees: Nick Christian updated on whether the Demonstration Management Committee would be joining the Defund committee. The response was they are being asked to join up.
Shayleen Morris gave an update from Defund Seattle Police. She was asking for more community input and for members of the Commission to join in.
Legislative Agenda and Police Accountability Work Groups: The State Legislative Agenda committee and the City Police Accountability and Contracts committee will meet further today.
Other Commission Business
An Ordinance Report has been concluded, so the staff now has more time to work on other matters.
Brandy Grant, the interim Executive Director, asked that the Commissioners head up this work instead of having the staff do it, and to use the staff as back up for the Commissioners.
Reverend Walden asked about whether the Commission wanted to continue to meet weekly instead of their usual bi-weekly schedule. Colleen Echohawk said that she liked the weekly meetings during these difficult times. Joseph Saia agreed that they are helpful, as did Alina Santillan.
Esther Lucero also supported meeting weekly and asked that information from the Committees’ work be made more a part of those meetings. She asked for more reports from there Work Groups for all the Commissioners to discuss. Prachi Dave agreed that it was a good idea.
The Commission then withdrew into Executive Session at 9:45 until 10:20 to discuss upcoming or current litigation.
The motion was carried for the filing by the Commission on the upcoming matter under litigation. All were in favor e with two abstentions: Officers Mullens and Bachler. The substance of the motion was not made public.
Members Present: Douglas Wagoner, Rev. Harriet Walden, Rev. Aaron Williams, Suzette Dickerson, Nick Christian, Prachi Dave, Scott Bachler, Colleen Echohawk, Erin Goodman, Mark Mullens, Alina Santillan.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
League Observer attended the entire public meeting: 9:a.m. - 10:40. There were members of the public listening in, but there was no public input. There was a quorum. Members were attentive, respectful of one another and well prepared.
Update on SPD Request for Records
After the agenda was accepted, as were the minutes of the previous meeting, the letter from the CPC to the City was read, requesting that the City withdraw their request for the journalists’ records from the recent protests in the city.
Asst. U.S. Attorney Christina Fogg asked Commissioners to reach out to her office with comments or questions about the filing with the Court for the deletion of the crowd control paragraphs — Use of Force; Weapon, Specific Policies — from the City of Seattle’s Consent Decree.
Ron Ward, the representative of the Seattle Monitoring Team, had no comment.
Cody Reiter, from CM González’s office, wanted to make himself available for any discussion with the Commissioners.
Austin Miller, from the Mayor's Office, also reached out to the Commissioners. He said the Mayor’s Office was in conversation with the Department of Neighborhoods & Human Rights to reimagine the SPD. They also were contacting groups representing immigrants, the disabled, African-American elders, women’s groups. Then, they will survey the broader community to get ideas about reimagining the SPD.
Retirement of Chief Best
The Commissioners then shared their reactions to the retirement of Police Chief Carmen Best. There was a sense that her retirement/resignation had huge implications for the Commission, for their work and how they move forward.
Rev. Walden said that her groups worked with the Chief since she was a lieutenant, and she was a role model for African-American girls. Rev. Walden and several other members felt that Chief Best was disrespected by the Council, that Black women leaders in general are treated badly in Seattle. Chief Best was not called on by the Council to discuss the impact of their moves on the SPD.
Scott Bachler said that he didn’t understand the silence of the CPC about that. He believed that silence did not support the Chief from June on when she was excluded from discussion with the City Council. He asked why the CPC did not stand by her.
Rev. Walden agreed with Scott that the Chief was disrespected because CPC was not involved. She expressed regret that they had not stood up as a group, but she emphasized that she was speaking throughout this discussion in her own capacity and not as a Commissioner. She said that the City Council was undemocratic.
Suzette Dickerson agreed. She was disheartened by the resignation and felt that the Chief still showed so much grace while she was being disrespected. She urged that, “We all need to do better. It is sad to see this transpire the way it has.”
Nick Christian differed. She said that as part of the Community Engagement Committee, it is not the CPC’s job to defend what happens in the SPD. That outside voices need to be heard, and that victims of the police need to be heard far more.
Rev. Walden, again speaking in her own capacity, said that the police were there with us, and the Guild was with us. CPC includes everyone: The Police are part of our Commission. We need to bridge the gap between the community and the police. Everyone needs to be able to walk across that bridge. The police are an integral part of the CPC and bring a lot to the table.
Prachi Dave agreed with Nick. She asserted that the CPC has made attempts to invite Chief Best to speak right after the demonstrations, and she did not appear. We are in a new era. We have invited her to sub-committee meetings and she hasn’t been working with us. We can’t ignore what has been happening on the streets, and things haven’t changed for the better. She concluded by saying that the CPC has been very respectful of all, including the police.
Recommendations on Crowd Control Management (see PDF attachment below)
Shayleen Moore reported on Demonstration Management and Defund. They have combined to two areas and a draft resolution has been completed. August 22 is the deadline for the Court. They are examining the budget for 2020 that the Council is drawing up. And they are reaching out to other groups before they finish the resolution. SPD and other groups are meeting with us for a deeper dive into the issue.
Jesse Franz said they were combing the two workgroups dealing with SPOG contracts, and looking further into the situation.
Prachi Dave reported on the groups dealing with crowd control and demonstration management. A document has been drafted regarding the stopping of non-lethal weapons. There is a hard deadline this week to submit our resolution to the Council. Commissioners had a copy of the recommendations so it was opened to questions or additions.
There was a lot of discussion of this which took up the remainder of the meeting.
Scott Bachler brought up several technical points asking about First Amendment rights and other actions: Does the Commission believe that arson fires are protected? Broad scale looting?
Jesse Franz: “No, only protests.” But he asked whether the the SPD can distinguish between First Amendment activities and non-First Amendment activities. Current policies aren’t clear enough to say when the SPD can declare a difference.
Scott Bachler then brought up a Supreme Court decision allowing proportional force. The Commission can’t go against a finding of the Supreme Court.
Jesse Franz responded that they meant force is to be used when it is absolutely necessary.
Prachi Dave said the Federal guidelines were the floor, but you could have further protections.
Scott Bachler asked if you removed tools from crowd control, would the SPD have the goal of protecting property? Property conservation is a goal of demonstration management. If crowd control tools are removed, would the SPD no longer protect property?
Nick Christian said it is not that the CPC believes property is not important, but it is less important than human life.
Scott Bachler agreed and said the SPD needed clarity.
Douglas Wagoner asked if Scott could provide specific language he’d like to recommend so that his feedback could be incorporated.
Rev. Walden asked Jesse to explain what they meant by “riot.”
The Commission considered several definitions of "riot" involving numbers involved and illegal activity. Commissions recommendations were shown on the screen. Questions were raised if one person throws something at the Police does that take away the rights of all the crowd? Jesse Franz said the bar should be higher to ask the crowd to disperse.
Alina Santillan asked if Scott felt the discussion addressed his concerns.
Scott Bachler: He was not sure: Some still seem problematic. Practically speaking, how do you handle 1,000 protesters, with five in the middle throwing things. What should be the police response? And it leads to property preservation. Is it okay to break windows? It is not possible to get only the trouble-makers. And there is the safety issue for the SPD employees, too. The SPD needs to bargain for this. Bachler also noted that he offered his input to the committee that drafted the resolution in June and was not taken up, creating an artificial deadline.
Praci Dave noted that the community should be at the center of this discussion since they are the CPC. Bargaining would be an issue. Many ideas should be presented to the Council to give them a 360-degree view.
Esther Lucero hearing challenges to police reform. Homelessness and criminality need to be distinguished and both should be dealt with. This started by having BIPOC people being targeted by police and the CPC should protect them.
Shayleen Morris described the spirit of the report as 1) protection of people's First Amendment rights and their bodies, and 2) Partnership between SPD, CPC, City Council.
There was discussion about protecting the public, not encouraging hard and fast rules. How could they ban weapons safely and put the safety of people first? Need to course-correct with community at the center.
Vote and Result
Teresa Chen from the Mayor's Office said if there is no second to the recommendations, they would fail and it would be conveyed that the CPC has no recommendations.
Douglas Wagoner moved to accept the recommendations.
Praci Dave seconded.
Rev. Walden seconded, noting they had a mandate to do this.
Alina Santillan seconded and invited Mark Mullens to talk.
Mark Mullens commented on police force (League Observer had trouble hearing him due to a poor connection).
Ayes: Wagoner, Walden, Williams, Dave, Echohawk, Lucero, Santillan.
Nays: Bachler, Mullens, Goodman
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
There were 30+ participants in the meeting, including commissioners and staff. As far the League Observer could tell only commissioners and staff spoke and there was no formal time for public comment. Everyone was respectful, allowed to speak and express diverse opinions. Several subcommittees which are meeting regularly provided a status summaries.
Demonstration Management Committee: Committee members attended a demonstration of police tactics by SPD learning the difference between projectiles, tazers, choke holds and cross face holds, etc. They also met with Chief Best and had a productive meeting. Committee will have a draft crowd control weapons bill for commissioners next week.
Legislative Committee: Now combined with Accountability Committee meeting (8/5/20).
Defund and Reinvest Committee: Committee continues to meet, still working on a platform and will bring to the commission when fully developed They are working with Seattle City Council and reviewing amendments and 36 budget amendments. The Committee is focusing now on 2021 budget and policies and will bring to the commission in mid-September. Questions raised on deadlines and offers from the Commission to help the committee if needed. Staff for the Committee said that it would be helpful for all commissioners serving on the committee to read all documents provided quickly and come to meeting prepared. A staff person (Shayleen) reminded the commissioners that they had already voted earlier in support of 3 principles championed by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity:
- Defund SPD
- Reinvest in alternatives
- Release all protesters
SPD Video Request
The Commission discussed CPC's stand on SPD request for videos, etc. of protests gathered by news organizations. The components of the WA. Shield Law was provided by staff via chat. A King County Superior Court Judge ruled that SPD's request met the standards of the Shield Law, but then backtracked a bit and added an intermediary to look at information before it's provided. The Commission voted to provide an amicus brief for the appeal by the media.
Virtual Meeting Highlights:
League Observer believes that there was some public input. People in the Zoom meeting were called upon and listened to attentively. Most of the Commissioners seemed to be in attendance, and there was a quorum. They appeared attentive, courteous, and engaged in the discussion.
Mi'Chance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance
The first item for discussion was noting the decision of the Commission to issue a statement voicing strong support for the Mi’Chance Dunlap-Gittens Youth Rights Ordinance. That Ordinance would connect young people who have been detained by the police to legal counsel before they waive their constitutional rights. That should allow more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) youth to avoid becoming swept up into the criminal justice system.
The Commission also discussed their various perspectives on the use of non-lethal means of the police to control crowds. Rev. Walden and Douglas Wagoner focused on the need of the police to have recourse to them in order to maintain control. Suzette Dickerson mentioned a meeting with a Sgt. Campbell of the SPD who offered a helpful discussion of the varieties of holds, particularly cross-face, that can hold a person while avoiding a choke-hold. She said that he would be willing to meet with more Commissioners if they so desired.
Demonstration management was reported on by Nick Christian. Staff is in the process of drafting the response to crowd control. They met with Chief Best and will report back on their recommendations next week.
New Executive Dir.
The new Executive Director of the CPC was announced: Brandy Grant, who has transitioned from being a Commissioner into that position. She was welcomed by the group.
Jesse Franz had an update about police accountability, and Shayleen Morris discussed the issues defund and disinvest from the SPD. While the CPC will look at the Council’s recommendations, they themselves are still developing a platform. We learned that the CPC was too late in getting out a position statement on the police budget for the rest of 2020, but they will now focus on getting a position to the City Council by mid-September for the entire 2021 budget. They will look at how the reforms are in line with the CPC’s values.
Prachi Dave emphasized the need to vote on their statement in a timely manner since they missed the deadline to vote on the remaining 2020 budget.
SPD Subpoenas for News Records
The next major order of business was to discuss and vote on the Commission’s position on the SPD issuing subpoenas for journalists’ records. Those subpoenas are being challenged by journalists and various other groups that will be friends of the court. The question is whether or not the CPC should join as friends. This matter was vigorously discussed with many Commissioners noting that journalists needed to be protected by the First Amendment and Washington privacy laws. The main concern was that if the government could look into journalists’ records, then the journalists could be viewed as an agents of the state, and that would completely upset the imperative sense of their impartiality.
Prachi Dave asked if the Commission wanted to take a position, and Mark Mullens was asked if he had a comment. Although most of the previous discussion favored supporting the journalists, Officer Mullens said he had no comment. The opposition was voiced by a member of the public who felt that there were times that, for example, extra video footage could provide police Investigating a fire with valuable information they would not be able to otherwise get. Aaron Williams asked if they should take a vote, and the group voted to support SPD withdrawing their subpoena, or if they appealed, for CPC to become an amicus, was passed. There were two nays and one abstention.
There was other, undisclosed business, the Commission would discuss in executive session and the meeting adjourned early at 10:00.