Virtual Meeting Highlights:
The meeting began 20 minutes late. The public was invited to submit questions beforehand. There was no live public comment portion. Over 175 questions were submitted ahead of the town hall.
Introduction by CM Strauss
Wants to have people be able to call 9-1-1 and get the appropriate first responder. Promised greater police accountability.
Sponsoring "Childcare Near You", a permitting bill to address the child care shortage. Started working on it in Jan. Makes technical changes to streamline permitting. Removes costly barriers so people can have more accessible near work and home. Has heard many stories about signing up on waitlists or going out of town to find what they need.
Community Council Reports
Ballard—Angie Gerrald, VP of Ballard District Council. Gave a description of their group, which has five Board members. They are a non-profit. Public meetings are 2nd Weds. of each month. Many businesses and non-profits participate in Ballard District Council. Recently studied building developments, Webster School, Seattle Police Community Service Officer Program where officers are unarmed, Community Policing Commission, Interbay Armory Project, candidate forums, etc. Ask: Help w/outreach.
Q1 (Gerrald to CM Strauss): City Council has strongly conveyed significant changes to police budget. What is the practical reality in next 6-12 months and 2-3 years? Will there be accountability for public safety outcomes in the near term?
A1 (CM Strauss): We are in the middle of the beginning of this historic conversation. Have seen a lot of people requesting change now. Important to move at a pace that allows scaling up in a way that does not jeopardize public safety, so continuation of operations. If “Defund” is a scary word, this is also “scale down, scale up”. We are jeopardizing success of this transition if it happens too fast.
Public safety in Rainier Beach is different than Ravenna. Ballard has a different need than in Beacon Hill. We have a lot more social service means intervening in school to prison pipeline. Metrics to evaluate by are in development now. Tomorrow you’ll see another presentation regarding our plan and how we’re moving forward. Important for people to know we aren’t going to move too fast, but fast enough.
Q2: Money will go to community-based orgs. What are community-based organizations here and how can people in Ballard engage in public safety at the local level?
A: Sees need for more crisis response teams in Ballard. When someone is having a mental health experience, they need proper mental health professional. In his experience, often someone will call police to intervene in a situation and there isn’t an appropriate police response to that request. They show up and caller says there was someone yelling. Question is what do you want me to do, the person has left, they’ve walked down the street. Not a meaningful intervention. Need appropriate first responder. We already have services like this, like HealthOne or the Cahoots model (Eugene, OR), which responds to 20% of 9-1-1 calls. Cahoots doesn’t require officer referral unlike Seattle Crisis Response Team here. That occupies officer patrol time and doesn’t hardwire crisis response into 9-1-1.
Fremont--Erik Phil (audio issues): Meets on the 4th Monday of every month at 7pm.
Q1 (by Phil): What specific measures will be put into place and what along what timeline such that funding is effectively reapplied to address structural racism, mental health services, drug rehab, housing for homeless, etc.
A (by CM Strauss): What he saw presented to the Council was four measures moving 9-1-1 call center out of SPD, about creating a pathway and framework for this change, scaling down and up and creating housing for all. When we can provide housing at a rate that allows people to come inside, we are creating more stable environments for people with mental health challenges and chemical dependency. Interested in exploring stopgap measures to put in place (hotel/motel). Housing affects many issues. Timelines and parameters—we are just in the middle of the beginning of this conversation so they are continuing to discuss these issues as a Council. Have pushed SPD conversation back one week to take more time. Invited input on those issues.
Q2: How will you work to increase cooperation w/in Seattle City Gov’t, Seattle Public Schools, and beyond to build back programs destroyed by pandemic?
A: He (CM) is Seattle’s Representative to the Assoc. of WA Cities. He is continuing conversation w/other cities in the region so we are all moving together. Also on Regional Transportation Committee. Transit has taken a big hit. He is also talking to the SPS Board. All about relationships, picking up the phone and having a conversation where you’re sharing what’s actually going on so you aren’t getting muddled by social media. That’s what he’s been doing and will do.
Green Lake--Paul Kostek. They meet 2nd Weds. every other month. Community Center is getting a refurbishment right now, replaced in 4-5 years. People are surprised at the things going on at that Community Center since it’s one of the busiest in the city. Green Lake Village is going to add a third building to that facility later this year or next for construction start. Will add to density and use factors. Putting in ADA curbs and traffic and lights. Friends of Green Lake monitors water quality. Considering floating islands and a turtle viewing area memorial to a drowning victim. Added blocks marking where you are around the lake so people can report their location to 9-1-1 w/more specificity.
Q1: Transportation issue is still a huge challenge w/buses and response is light rail will solve all problems, but certain parts of Green Lake aren’t near it. How do you see transportation handled? What about bus service?
A: As light rail opens and bus routes are realigned, need to make sure they are the same or better. E line great direct line back downtown. Need a way around the lake, to Roosevelt Station and Northgate Station. Engaged w/Wallingford DC on this. Green Lake is quite large.
Phinney Ridge—Alice Poggi. Group has all the same concerns about policing and public safety in Seattle. Encouraged him to stay in touch w/constituents on that. We are very concerned. We see a lot of property crime on both sides of the hill and on top. Concerned about public safety. Higher areas with more assaults, but we support all our neighboring communities. There is a way to do policing with all of us. Happy to have him host a Town Hall dedicated to that topic.
Local issue on fire right now is a Healthy St. Closure at Green Lake and Golden Gardens. Closing arterials and is problematic. Really want SDOT to do a traffic analysis of alternative routes. Construction will start on 80th and we can’t go around Green Lake. People are really upset.
Committed to social justice with help of Phinney Neighborhood Assoc. and a lot of subgroups. Want to be part of that conversation.
CM Strauss: Worse thing we can do is set it (reform) up to fail. We had a historic moment and don’t want to lose the opportunity. Wants to increase the amount of public safety provided to our community.
Q: Likes micro-policing plans that SPU has been running every summer. Encourages participation in North Precinct Advisory Council. A lot of background things going on in the department that people need to appreciate and need to be kept as part of the department.
Strauss responded affirmatively “absolutely”.
Wallingford--Glenn Singer. Priorities are family affordable housing, aging in place, homelessness solutions. Asking the city to look at public land. Transportation strategies that take into considerations bikers, walkers, etc. Parking on 45th.
Q1: Are we going to benefit our residents in design review?
A1: Seeing skinny tall buildings with a lot of stairs. All ages and abilities are two frame-works he focuses on. Completely agrees w/potential use of public land to address homelessness.
Conversation about Race
Damarcus Wigfall--Resident in D6 for the past 5 years. Introduced next panel.
Damarcus—Lives are more pertinent than streets and parks. This is more pertinent than almost any other thing brought up. Invited everyone to be as candid as possible.
Q: How have the protests/COVID affected you in your personal relationships?
Julie: If it hadn’t happened during COVID she would have participated in different wants. Took ingenuity to figure out how to participate. Definitely not interested in spreading COVID. Didn’t go, but helped w/Juneteeth visibility. Causing people to find all different kinds of ways to take action. Thinks that’s one of the reasons it’s continuing to go.
Richelle: This isn’t about people of color. She’s Black. Grew up in one of the actively racist areas raised by a white family who told her she was Native American, not Black. She found out she was Black when she was 18. Has been processing the internalized racism. Never heard Black people referred to as anything other than the N word growing up. Coming to Seattle heard a lot how diverse and progressive it was. The most insidiously racist and catering to white supremacy city in the country. Everything that happens here serves white privilege. The Black community has been gentrified out of the city. Has had to coalesce around these protests and figure out who they are. Has watched them her whole life being persecuted and murdered w/no justice. Every time it happens she hears all about what the person did to deserve it. What happened w/George Floyd was a catalyst, but it’s only seemed to have been an issue and frenzy for while people. Yeah, it’s happening during COVID, but the communities most affected by COVID are the ones on the street.
Also the indigenous communities suffering genocide colonization, atrocities, land stolen. Talking about what should happen when we’re sitting on stolen land. White people are still here watching while Duwamish tried to get federal recognition. Clinton gave it and Bush took it away.
To Julie—Trying to find what she can do without going out in COVID, still a huge privilege to be in that position. White people trying to tell Black and brown people how they should do it differently. She’s done listening to the people who created this system and are benefiting from it that they get to have a voice and that’s the only way this can go. Reality is we cannot dismantle the system by having the people who created it and benefit from it dictate how it happens.
Frustrating to hear District Council complain about having to go around Green Lake.
Damarcus—Militarization of police force, as someone who once served, feels uncomfortable. To Sergio: How do the protests affect your personal life? How are you dealing w/that w/COVID.
Sergio: Identifies as a person of color. First-generation American. The protests are affecting him on both sides. Cannot take his brown uniform off and just be white in a mostly white-dominant district. On the other hand, has never had to deal with a lot of things.
On COVID, thinks its unfortunate these two things happened at the same time but hopefully we will get a change of administration and COVID will be something of the past.
Race isn’t something we are going to get rid of in a couple of months. There is no vaccine for a racist system. As far as what does he think he’s trying to remain very neutral and wants to provide a very neutral information. A lot of us have questions and we have these ideas on why does the police do this or why do they have this equipment. He doesn’t necessarily have the answers. Uncomfortable because he feels he isn’t from Seattle so in a weird place bc he is a POC and a cop, so not too popular right now. At work, looks are on him. Outside of work, looks are on him. As a resident, he’s been privileged to grow up somewhere extremely diverse where Black and brown people are the majority. Sympathetic towards people of color here because fight is bigger here. Legitimately open to everything, but need to figure out what we want out of policing in this city.
If you asked him what’s wrong w/policing, it's is the judicial system. Could go on and on about those flaws. People aren’t prepared to come out of jail or prison. We are setting them up for failure. There are certain laws that target people of color. But he doesn’t necessarily think that’s him as an officer. He’s able to be a human being.
This is a conversation that’s a lot bigger than just talking about SPD. Just as frustrated when he sees these videos (or misconduct) come out. There’s no justification. Has worked at two cities 3k miles apart and can say SPD is not perfect, but is probably the most transparent and progressive and accountable agency in the country. We need to say what we want it to look like.
Richelle: SPD has been under a consent decree for killing people and lack of transparency since 2011 and judge told them they were going backward. Need to admit that policing in this country is inherently racist is based in slave-catching and stealing land from Native Americans. (To Sergio) sorry that it’s affecting you personally, but the police are the problem. Defunding is a great start, but we would need to abolish and reform the system that is rotten at its core. Policing is based in white supremacy. She’s experienced racism everywhere she’s lived. It isn’t about POC.
Brian: There can never be justice on stolen land. Need to sit back and absorb what Richelle was saying. Grew up where the only way she even heard about Black people was N word, then moved here and it was the most insidiously racist place she’s lived. Invited participants to sit w/that. Agreed w/Sergio that police are not the problem. Whiteness is the problem. Not white people. Whiteness, the system. Have to figure out how to flip this so blackness is not under a microscope. Need to figure out how to dismantle white supremacy. Seattleites present ourselves as politically liberal, but emotionally conservative. Very difficult to get Seattleites to look beyond white progressiveness, to analyze not just white supremacy, but our own participation in white supremacy. We are very willing to claim the word ally, with a positive intention, but the road to hell is paved w/good intentions.
Question for white Seattleites: Why is the nomenclature “ally” so important?
Damarcus: Flipped the question to CM Strauss: How to deconstruct the idea of whiteness in Seattle in D6. How do we eradicate whiteness as a concept?
CM Strauss: Allyship is a path, not a destination. It involves constant work of education and empathy. People have a different lived experience than me. Chris wants to have people have the positive experience he’s had with police. Dan has had that same experience. Defunding is a scary word. Also important to frame it as scaling up scaling down. How do we deconstruct whiteness is a conversation we should have with each other.
Brian: Personally thinks that what white folks need to do is educate themselves, but could be a situation where the blind are leading the blind. It’s all right there in the history. It’s not that hard. Breadcrumb trail through music, history, art, academics. Learn the history and de-program. When white people get together to talk, it’s an echo chamber of bad ideas.
Damarcus: Breaking down whiteness. When you clump people together, why can’t people start collecting back their heritage. Jewish people, German people, stop prefacing it with “white”. How can you find an identity of Blackness when you don’t know your own history because you were enslaved? You have to break down the cultural inheritance of those things. Break up that big group of white people. Just his opinion.
Julie: Spoke about being a physically disabled person.
Phoenix: Stepped in and asked Julie not to center herself. Not a fear of letting go of police, a fear of letting go of privilege and having unearned money go to others. More money, privilege, satisfaction, property, ownership, etc.
Chris: Doesn’t see a direct correlation between skin color and greed. Doesn’t see that, but that’s not to say there aren’t people in our community who have been seriously disadvantaged. Need to find ways to help these people and try to fix those problems. Doesn’t talk about race with non-white friends. Has friends who tell him they won’t drive in certain areas because they’ll get pulled over. We can’t deny these things happen. Would like to disconnect that idea of greed with whiteness. Wants to get away from the racial construct of whiteness altogether. Wants to dismantle whiteness as an idea.
Damarcus: Invited a show of hands of people who have lost friends because of conversations about race.
Phoenix: It’s not about losing relationships. They don’t have the privilege of having a relationship with her.
Richelle: White people want to be unique always. You need to deal w/the fact you’re white in a system created to serve you. German, Jewish, etc. is not race, it’s ethnicity. After 400+ years, it should be painful and uncomfortable to acknowledge it.
Damarcus: Wants to talk about qualified immunity and cutting 50% of SPD budget. How do you feel about using citizens to drive a message?
CM Strauss: As far as using people to drive a political message, that’s why he took himself out of this part of the conversation. It’s really hard to hear that these experiences in his community where he’s grown up. It’s challenging to hear this is the case for the place I love and call home. It’s our job to do education for ourselves so it’s not the blind leading the blind. There are good people in broken systems.
Brian: There shouldn’t be a binary way of talking about people in good v. bad. That framework holds us back. Learning history so important to look up the 3rd Enforcement Act which is directly linked to qualified immunity.
Richelle: Racism is not a character flaw. It’s a result of living in a system that’s based in whiteness. It’s just the reality of living in this system. It becomes a character issue when you double down on it.
Brian: Raised his hand that he’s participating in this white supremacist system, colorism or self-doubt. Find ways that you’re personally accountable.
Richelle: Describes herself as a light-skinned black woman with a ton of privilege. Wants to pass the mic to people with more experience than she does.
Sergio: Needs to be some sort of change. What that change looks like he doesn’t know. Sergio would be all on board with no guns, qualified immunity, but "let me retired first." Doesn’t have a college degree. All his experience are based on life and his profession. Cops also need some sort of protection. Maybe we get rid of immunity, but what do we replace it with? He’s stopped people who match a certain description of someone they’re looking for a serious felony, so technically he’s violated a fourth amendment right. Conversation can get tricky and there are three aspects of communicating: Actively listening, understand they aren’t going to agree on everything, and compromise. If you achieve those things, you're being productive. Some people think police should be abolished. He respects that, but disagrees. Became a cop because he was pulled over six times in four days by a white cop. Public safety serves a function in society.
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