Juarez gives a blunt assessment of police reform, Council dynamics, city politics

This morning during the final budget committee meeting for the year as the City Council debated one last trim to the SPD budget, Council member Debora Juarez delivered a blunt, unexpected and surprising five-minute speech, in which she touched on the expectations and pace for police reform, the current adversarial political culture, and her hopes that we can come together as a city and nation and start healing. Video and full transcript are below.

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SPD budget changes, revisited: some corrections, a better explanation, and a last-minute change in the works

Last Friday I posted a summary of the Council’s budget deliberations last week, including where they landed on SPD’s 2021 budget. Since then I’ve had several email exchanges with the Council’s staff, as they pointed out some inaccuracies in the numbers I posted (and they humbly admitted that they didn’t really explain it all very well). The Council’s unwillingness to try to impose a hiring freeze on SPD in 2021 was widely (but not always accurately) reported over the past few days, and it has created blowback from advocacy groups over the notion that SPD might actually grow in size …

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City responds to BLM contempt allegations

Earlier this week, the City of Seattle filed its response to allegations from Black Lives Matter and the ACLU that it should be held in contempt for violating a preliminary injunction placing restrictions on SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons. The city’s response is a strong defense to the contempt charge, but it raises many additional questions about the way that SPD handles protests.  

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“Black Brilliance” research project delivers preliminary budget recommendations to City Council

Last week the Black Brilliance Research Project, the coalition group led by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now and asked by the City Council to spearhead a participatory budgeting process for city investments to increase community safety in BIPOC communities, delivered a preliminary report to the Council with a set of recommendations on priorities for the 2021 city budget.

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First look at Council’s proposed cuts to SPD

Tomorrow the City Council will discuss proposals to change SPD’s 2021 budget. There are 22 items on the list, including requests for reports and “statements of legislative intent” that don’t actually change the budget. Plus there are some revisions to cuts or transfers that are already in the Mayor’s proposed budget. It took a bit of work to sort it all out, but here’s a first look at the numbers.  

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Contempt charge against SPD for violating crowd-control weapon injunction inches toward evidentiary hearing

This morning U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones held a status conference with attorneys for the ACLU, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and the City of Seattle. They met to hammer out some of the details of an evidentiary hearing on whether the city should be found in contempt of Jones’s preliminary injunction restricting SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons. But those details, as it turns out, are messy.

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State-mandated court fines are sending Black people into debt — and to jail. SPD is making the problem worse.

(updated with some minor corrections in the details related to fines, fees and penalties) As one might expect for a Seattle-based institution, the Seattle Municipal Court has earned a reputation for pursuing progressive policies with regard to criminal justice reform. In recent years the Court has worked to reshape its procedures and policies for both probation and bail to address racial disparities. Most recently it has turned its attention to “legal financial obligations” or LFOs: the patchwork of fines, penalties and fees that are imposed upon those found guilty of breaking the law. The Court, in cooperation with the city’s …

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City, DOJ formally sweep SPD’s crowd-control controversy into consent decree process

This summer there have been two legal threads related to SPD’s use of crowd-control weapons:  two similar lawsuits asking for restrictions; and the Department of Justice asking for and receiving a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking implementation of the City Council’s ordinance prohibiting the police department’s use of crowd control weapons. Earlier this week there was activity in the first thread; today there was an important update in the second.

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