A sad goodbye
People gathered in Auburn on Aug. 6 to mourn Jesse Sarey — killed at the hands of an Auburn police officer — and demand answers and justice.
Sarey was 26 years old, the son of immigrants from Cambodia and a foster son to Elaine Simons, an advocate for homeless youth and the founder of Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets, a program for homeless young people in Seattle. Simons stood with other families of people killed by police and with the Forced Trajectory Project in a June press conference.
According to the organizers, the officer who shot Sarey has dozens of complaints against him and was involved in the deaths of two other people.
Organizers had four concrete demands: Fire the officer who shot Sarey, require body cameras for Auburn police officers, defund the Auburn police department and drop all lawsuits impeding the King County inquest process.
That last references the new inquest process into police-involved shootings, the first reform in more than 15 years. It has been held up by lawsuits from cities in the county.
Sarey’s family was joined by many others who have also lost loved ones due to police violence.
March for justice
Protesters gathered Aug. 5 for a march on City Hall in advance of a meeting where councilmembers discussed budget amendments to advance the effort to slash the Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) budget.
The march began at the Children and Family Justice Center, a $242 million detention and court facility that those same community members have been fighting since voters approved a levy to construct it in 2012.
Protesters demanded cutting the SPD budget by 50 percent, a goal that most councilmembers have acknowledged they will not be able to meet in 2020. They asked for that money to be invested in community organizations with the aim of creating safety without police.
The march was originally planned for Aug. 3, when the City Council was expected to vote on a “rebalancing package” for the city’s budget. Finances have been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, which has destroyed the tax revenue that funds city services. That vote was delayed for at least a week as Council grappled with dozens of amendments, some related to policing and others that were more generic, such as curtailing the salaries of highly paid executives in all departments.
Seattle is one of several large cities that are working to change the way policing operates. New York City; Oakland, California; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, are all discussing shrinking or abolishing their police departments.
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 more in the Aug. 12-18, 2020 issue.