OPA releases findings for first few cases from summer protests
Also more accountability news, reform news from the county and state, and a potential delay of the SCC vote on the vetoed budget
The whole city is talking about the first set of findings on the Seattle summer protest cases the OPA released this morning. The two most high-profile cases of the five summaries released were the incident of the child being pepper-sprayed, which was found to be unsustained, and the incident of the officer putting a knee on a protester’s neck, which was partially sustained. More details can be found here and here. Kevin Schofield also interviewed OPA Director Myerberg on these findings yesterday.
The CPC have made a statement talking about the inadequate policies of the SPD and saying “It is also important to understand these disciplinary decisions are being made under the flawed disciplinary system created by the current police contracts.” Philip Weiss, who has been doing excellent work this summer reviewing OPA summaries on Twitter, gives his analysis of the OPA summaries in two Twitter threads:
Philip Weiss @kingratThe analysis is that because there was no policy of trying to not hurt bystanders, this was just fine. "there was no section of the policy that caused directed pepper spraying to be improper simply because it inadvertently affected another individual in the immediate vicinity."
We also have an excellent investigative journalism piece in the South Seattle Emerald about the quest for police accountability from a journalist who permanently lost her hearing in one ear during a protest this summer. This piece painfully chronicles the bureaucratic twists and turns involved in the accountability process, illustrating some of the flaws in the current SPD accountability system. The injured journalist wouldn’t have gotten as far as she has in the process without hiring a lawyer, and even so, it is by no means certain she will receive any accounting whatsoever for the actions of the police officer who threw a flash bang at her while she was resting away from the protest.
In other news about accountability, Black Lives Matter Seattle King County filed a request with the OIG yesterday to investigate SPD’s potentially unlawful actions against protesters earlier this year.
Meanwhile, The Urbanist published a closer look at the history of the consent decree and recently resigned Monitor Merrick Bobb, which quotes former Mayor Mike McGinn at some length, laying out reasons the consent decree has failed and going into more depth of the influence SPOG has had on Seattle city politics over the last several years. Obviously there is a political battle being played out here, and hearing the other side of the argument is educational.
Finally, we have a a couple articles on reform on the county and state levels. While my focus here in this newsletter is primarily on Seattle, it’s important to remember that changes at every level of government can have impact. The King County 2021-2022 budget proposal is being introduced next week by Executive Dow Constantine, and this new plan “includ[es] alternatives to jail, community-based public safety alternatives, and divestments from the current criminal legal system.” He also envisions a $1.9m decrease in spending on the county jail. He presents this budget to the King County Council on September 22. Andrew Grant Houston did a Twitter thread of Omari Salisbury’s interview with Nikkita Oliver about her reaction to this budget announcement And the Washington State Department of Corrections has drafted a strategy calling for a reduction of 30% of the state’s prison population over the next year.
I’ve heard the City Council might not be discussing the veto of the revised 2020 budget on Monday after all, possibly postponing that discussion until later in the week. CP Gonzalez previously stated the last day they can act is September 24, so we’ll see how things play out. This news seems to suggest a deal has yet to be reached between the Mayor and the Council.
Hope you have a good weekend!