Even after two people were killed and four were shot over a couple of weekends in Seattle’s autonomous “CHAZ” last month, members of the City Council are backing a 50% reduction in the police’s budget. The changes come after an activist group, Decriminalize Seattle, launched a campaign calling for the reallocation of police funds to community organizations.
“The status quo is no longer acceptable,” said Council President Lorena Gonzalez. “We have to take away the things that no longer and should have never belonged to law enforcement in the first place.”
Under the proposals, more than $200 million would be reduced from the police department’s budget. Roughly 1,000 individuals would be fired and 911 operations would be replaced with a civilian-controlled system.
There would also be an investment in housing and a fund for “community-created roadmap to life without policing.”
Budget chair Theresa Mosqueda lauded the proposals. “I look forward to implementing the proposals outlined by you all,” she said. “It is the institution of policing itself that must be dismantled.”
Police Chief Carmen Best, an African-American, criticized the moves. “I respect Council member Mosqueda. I think she is very passionate about what she’s doing, but she also needs to think about the fact that public safety and the budget are intertwined.”
“And we need to make sure we’re doing what’s in the best interests of everybody. It’s really interesting — if anybody recognizes issues of system racism and institutional racism, it’s me,” Best said.
“I think it’s rash and irrational to make that decision without having a thoughtful conversation with community members,” she added. “And I’m hoping that the City Council will rethink the plan to do that — without having a plan for how we’re going to re-envision policing and how it will work.”
Photo by zeraien