It’s not the same as turning in their badges, but two Seattle police officers who have run afoul of the facts are now off the street.
A Seattle Police Department spokesperson confirms that Gregory Neubert and Michael Tietjen have been “voluntarily reassigned” to desk jobs inside the department — positions in which the controversial former bike officers will no longer patrol downtown or make drug busts.
One such bust on Jan. 2 led a man to file a complaint that the officers had roughed him up and planted drugs on him. In April, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said an investigation had cleared the two, despite the fact that details in the officers’ reports did not match what was recorded by a drugstore surveillance camera — a discrepancy that is now part of an FBI investigation.
The fast track
To voice their opposition to an immigration reform bill recently introduced into the Senate, members of labor, religious, and immigrant communities held a May 22 press conference at the state Federal Building. Then 20 of them went on a hunger strike.
For the next 24 hours, from noon to noon, the score of advocates forewent food of any kind, breaking their fast the next day at Plymouth Congregational Church. The nonviolent action was symbolically chosen to express displeasure with, among other things, how the bill prizes merit-based visas over family reunification, says Martin Vallen, immigrant rights organizer at Hate Free Zone. He says that not everyone who attended the action — which included a vigil — fasted. But, Vallen adds, an untold number of people throughout the city and state abstained from eating during the same period.
Originally from Burma, he says he fasted because acting in solidarity was a way for him to take a stand. “And,” says Vallen, “to make sure the bill gets fixed.”
Just say Szwaja
Seattle schoolteacher and former Madison, Wisconsin city councilmember Joe Szwaja is just about ready to run for the Seattle City Council.
Szwaja, who teaches history and activism at Nova High School and is a boardmember for the local post-Katrina grassroots aid organization Common Ground, says he has hasn’t made a final decision, but he has filed for office with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Nor has the 2000 Green Party challenger to U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott decided whether to take on incumbents Jean Godden, Tom Rasmussen, or David Della, or join an already crowded race for the seat left open by outgoer Peter Steinbrueck. But he does say there’s “a real lack of leadership and a lack of checks and balances” at City Hall: conditions ripe for exploitation by moneyed interests.