First, I would like to thank you for taking the time to reflect and share a statement regarding the murder of Mr. George Floyd by Minneapolis police. It is refreshing to read such a message from the Chief. As you said it well: Policing is to protect.
That being said, I respectfully disagree with your assertion that incidents like those do not happen here. What you say could be interpreted to mean that the Seattle Police Department is different, and thus, we Black people are safe. We are not. As you know, Seattle has had its share of police brutality and violations of the basic rights and dignity of people of color on numerous occasions. Our people have been oppressed, tortured and killed in the blink of an eye for no justifiable reason. It could be said that those violent acts were committed by bad apples in the SPD and that the department has been able to rid itself of such individuals. It is more likely that racist acts are still being committed but not yet uncovered. The problem is the rot in the tree, not just the apples.
But given the fierce resistance of the SPD and the Police Guild to comply with judicial decisions and recommendations for change, it does not give me peace of mind to hear you say that we are OK here. What we need are actions. So, while I commend you for the beautiful statement to your department, I urge you to work more diligently and closely with your officers — and the Police Guild — to ensure that the SPD can be proud to say that we are a pool of honorable officers serving all people of our city.
Attorney, community activist and faculty at the University of Washington/Health Alliance International
See Carmen Best's statement here.
Read more in the June 3-9, 2020 issue.