News and Commentary

Majority Of Seattle City Council Now Wants Police Funding Cut In Half
Seattle police were out in force during a rally called United Against Hate hosted by right wing group, the Washington State Three Percent (3%), at City Hall Plaza on January 5, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.
Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images

On Thursday, three more members of the Seattle City Council joined four others who want to defund the city’s Police Department by 50%, forming a majority on the council.

Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis joined Chair Teresa Mosqueda, Tammy Morales, Kshama Sawant, and M. Lorena González in supporting a plan propounded by Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now. That means seven of the nine council members favor the huge cuts to the police. Gonzalez said Thursday, “The status quo is no longer acceptable. We have to take away the things that no longer and should have never belonged to law enforcement in the first place,” KIRO 7 reported.

Mosqueda stated, “I look forward to implementing the proposals outlined by you all,” adding, “When millions of people took to the streets to protest excessive use of force and police violence, they were met with excessive use of force and police violence in Seattle and around the country, proving that it’s not just about a few bad actors. It is the institution of policing itself that must be dismantled.”

KIRO 7 asked Seattle police Chief Carmen Best about Mosqueda’s comments. Best replied:

I respect Councilmember 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.

Noting that a loss of 50% of police funding would leave 1,000 fewer personnel, she added, “I think it’s rash and irrational to make that decision without having a thoughtful conversation with community members. 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.”

On Wednesday, Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now made a presentation to the council’s budget committee. Angélica Cházaro, a representative from Decriminalize Seattle, stated, “We believe 911 dispatch should be removed from SPD control. 911 calls should be referred, whenever appropriate, to non-police responders.”

The two groups submitted a four-point proposal for defunding the Police Department. The Seattle Times listed them:

  • Remove Seattle’s 911 dispatchers from police control
  • Scale up community-based solutions to public safety
  • Fund a community-led process to “imagine life beyond policing.”
  • Invest in affordable housing

On Thursday, Decriminalize Seattle’s Jackie Vaughn asserted that the group’s goal is “defunding the Seattle Police Department and building a world where we trust and believe in community to provide the safety that we need.”

Sawant tweeted on June 24, “As part of Defunding Seattle Police by at least 50%, we need to purge all officers who’ve committed police violence & brutality as well as those who gave the orders. Seattle Police have a longstanding record of racist killings, violence against protests. We need to clean house.”

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