Protestors took to neighborhoods in the Seattle area over the weekend and left messages for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Debora Juarez. “Guillotine, Jenny”, “Resign Bi—“, and “F— You” were among those messages written on their home windows and nearby streets.

The protestors targeted the mayor and councilmembers specifically because of their resistance to a 50% budget cut to the Seattle Police Department that other councilmembers have been advocating for.

In response to the death of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that have followed, many cities have begun considering the reduction in their budgets for law enforcement, including Seattle.

Seattle’s current budget for the Seattle Police Department is $409 million. Mayor Durkan announced earlier this month that the 2021 budget would cut that amount by $76 million. This fell short of the 50% decrease that seven of the nine Seattle Councilmembers had recommended.

The council hopes to reallocate those funds to other services in the city, such as affordable housing. They have partnered with groups like Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now in their plans on how the defunding would occur.

Decriminalize Seattle has demanded a 50% defunding of the police department, a reallocation of those funds to other community needs (such as housing, community health, and civil rights), and that all protestors in recent weeks be released without charge.

Mayor Durkan, while agreeing that there should be a reduction in the budget, has cautioned the council against a 50% reduction, going so far as to say that she will veto any drastic efforts by the council.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best – an African-American woman who has been serving on the Seattle Police Department for 28 years – has called these budget cut proposals “reckless” and “not realistic or rational.”

“I do not believe we should be asking the people of Seattle to test out a theory,” Chief Best said, “that crime goes away if police go away.”

The importance of police involvement in communities should be highlighted by the high rates of shootings, sexual assaults, and theft within the “no-police” zone experiment of CHAZ. Or, it should be remembered that many of these protests have included the throwing of rocks, bottles, and explosives, and setting cars and buildings on fire.

Seattle is already seeing the devastating effects of less police involvement in the community.

In a recent letter to the city council, Chief Best stated that the “SPD stands ready to engage in a community-lead re-envisioning of community safety.” Further, she refuted the charge that policing doesn’t prevent crime: “…there are countless, peer-reviewed articles that confirm the exact opposite.”

Caitlin Bassett

Caitlin Bassett graduated from Liberty University in 2017 with her Bachelor's in Politics and Policy. She grew up in the great Pacific Northwest, but now calls Northern California home as she pursues ministry school.

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