A judge dismissed the case against two police officers who shot and killed a Black mother of four who called the police for help in June 2017. According to The Seattle Times, this the ruling allows the city of Seattle to move for dismissal.
According to the Times, attorneys for the two officers argued that the case should be dismissed because Charleena Lyles was in the process of committing a felony when she was shot and killed by police.
Attorneys for Lyles and the estate said that this ignored her history of mental illness “such that she lacked the mental capacity” to commit the crime.
The attorney for the estate and Lyles’ children said that they are planning to appeal, according to the Seattle Times.
Lyles’ death sparked protests against the approach that police took when they responded to her 9-1-1 call. Since her death, Washington voters approved Initiative 940, which requires additional de-escalation training for police, lowers the threshold for prosecution on the use of deadly force and requires an independent investigation into killings committed by police.
Some of these provisions may not apply to Seattle because the police department is still under the purview of the federal Department of Justice.
Then there were three
Bruce Harrell announced that he would not stand for reelection in November 2019. Councilmembers Rob Johnson and Sally Bagshaw also announced they will not run.
Harrell, who represents District 2 and the south end of Seattle, said that “three terms is sufficient in this role at this time” in a public statement.
If he had decided to run, Harrell would have faced competition in the second district-based race in Seattle’s recent history. Tammy Morales, an organizer who lost to Harrell in 2015, declared that she would run for the seat, as did Matthew Perkins, who is running on safety and security and also defunding organizations that help homeless people, including the Low Income Housing Institute and SHARE, the Seattle Housing and Resource Effort.
Also in the race is Ari Hoffman, a business owner who made his debut on the political scene advocating for a Jewish cemetery that he said was defaced by people experiencing homelessness both in public meetings and on two shows on NRATV.
NRATV is the media arm of the National Rifle Association, a group that lobbies for reduced restrictions on gun ownership. The host of one show on which Hoffman appeared was Grant Stinchfield, who wore a shirt reading “Socialist Tears” while bashing a television with a sledgehammer to show his regard of the “mainstream media.” He once apologized for saying that North Korea should drop a nuclear bomb on Sacramento, California.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) declared victory when it successfully got Amazon to remove floor and bathmats that featured verses from the Quran and other Islamic text from its online shelves.
The mats were offensive to Muslims “because they were inscribed with sacred religious texts that would be stepped on, used in bathrooms or otherwise potentially disrespected by customers,” according to the press release.
“We are also working on contacting the companies who produce these products so that we can provide them with proper religious and cultural education so that this isn’t a reoccurring issue,” said Masih Fouladi, the executive director of CAIR-wa.
Hotel initiative appealed
City Attorney Pete Holmes will appeal a decision invalidating an initiative approved by Seattle voters meant to protect hotel employees by improving their access to medical care and preventing abuse by clients.
The decision by the Court of Appeals comes after a King County judge tossed the suit, which was brought by hotel-owner groups. They alleged that the initiative violated state law and hotel guests’ constitutional rights.
Holmes’ next step is to file a petition to review with the state Supreme Court.
In a statement, Mayor Jenny Durkan said that she supported Holmes’ decision and that she and the City Council planned to file new legislation to protect hotel workers.
“Seattle will continue to lead the way by protecting and creating opportunity for all workers in our community. With overwhelming support, voters spoke clearly that Seattle will ensure fair treatment in the workplace,” Durkan said.
A federal judge temporarily blocked a policy from the Trump administration that would allow employers to deny their employees free birth control if they are opposed to that method of contraception.
The ruling impacts 13 states, including Washington, and the District of Columbia.
The policy allows employers who claimed religious or moral objections to contraception to get around the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide contraception. It was announced in October 2017, and was immediately blocked by federal judges, according to a press release from the Washington State Attorney General’s office.
The administration tried again in November 2018, and 13 states and the District of Columbia filed suit, arguing that the new rules violated the ACA and “are arbitrary and capricious.” However, only women who live in states that filed suit are protected from these rules, meaning that those in the remaining 37 states will get access to birth control based on the whims of their employers.
It is hard to overstate the impact that access to contraception has on women’s lives. One study found that as much as a third of women’s wage gains since the 1960s were made possible because of access to contraception.
Ashley Archibald is a Staff Reporter covering local government, policy and equity. Have a story idea? She can be can reached at ashleya (at) realchangenews (dot) org. Follow Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC
Read the full Jan. 16 - 22 issue.
Real Change is a non-profit organization advocating for economic, social and racial justice. Since 1994 our award-winning weekly newspaper has provided an immediate employment opportunity for people who are homeless and low income. Learn more about Real Change.