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
Read the latest edition of our monthly newsletter, The Voter, for a detailed look at current events in the League.
SUPPORT THE LEAGUE
Support informed voting!