Seattle has hired a former pimp to serve as a “street czar” who will help the city government communicate with racial justice activists and consult on available alternatives to traditional law enforcement.
Fox News reports that Seattle hired activist Andre Taylor, who is “open about his past as a pimp” to help city officials better understand racial justice issues before they become the subject of demonstrations, or worse, riots.
Taylor is no stranger to street violence. His brother, Che, was killed in a confrontation with Seattle police in 2016, and although he runs a non-profit designed to seek racial justice and improve policing, he was critical of the now-infamous “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” or “CHOP,” and joined with the father of a black teenager killed on the outskirts of CHOP to urge the city to take action and break up the protest, appearing with him on Fox News and in other televised interviews.
“Taylor has previously worked with the city, receiving $100,000 for his nonprofit to host panel discussions called ‘Conversation with the Streets’ in 2019,” according to Fox News.
Taylor told local media that he’s happy to help provide necessary expertise. “Me, as a Black man has the right to be paid for my genius or for whatever my organization can provide,” he told a local outlet. “Black people as a whole have not been in a place to be compensated for their genius or their work for a very, very long time.”
Taylor’s $150,000-per-year contract comes as part of the multi-million dollar “community investment” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced earlier this summer, just as the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest was kicking off.
“In early June, she committed in her 2021 budget a $100 million investment in community,” a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told Fox. “Andrè spoke with organizers about how to turn activism and organizing into action at the state, local and federal level, and urged individuals to leave Capitol Hill.”
He also offered to serve as a liason between protesters and Seattle city government, encouraging protesters to demand community investment in the seven figures before agreeing to disassemble their makeshift camp. He reportedly tried to press protesters to ask for changes to city policies rather than to ask city council members to fully abolish the city’s law enforcement.
Interestingly, Taylor’s job may be designed to also serve as a way for Seattle’s mayor to compromise with her city council. Despite her veto, the Seattle city council went ahead with plans to cut the Seattle Police Department’s budget and eliminate around 100 positions within the Seattle police department as well as the department’s Navigation program. The city council also capped police officer pay at $150,000 per year, even for top brass.
Taylor is more in line with Durkan, believing that law enforcement should be reformed and taught to communicate with the black community rather than defunded and disbanded, and some activists, The Seattle Times reports, “worry the mayor has brought on a high-profile Black leader who sees eye to eye with her in an attempt to head off such changes.”
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