Demands to defund the Seattle Police Department emerged out of Seattle-wide protests against racism, police brutality, and jails that made headlines last week when the SPD abandoned a police precinct in the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood and activists reclaimed the space as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. These demands—of which Verso is an organizational cosponsor—join several such issuing out of Seattle's protests, and were prepared by COVID-19 Mutual Aid Seattle, a network of organizations and individuals who came together in response to COVID-19 to demand an abolitionist, anti-racist public health response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Police reform efforts—from Minneapolis to Seattle—have failed. To stop police violence, the police must be reduced in size, in budget, and in scope. The police have never served as an adequate response to social problems. They are rooted in violence against Black people. In order to protect Black lives, this moment calls for investing and expanding our safety and well-being beyond policing. To that end, we demand:
1- Seattle's Mayor and City Council must immediately defund Seattle Police Department (SPD). The city faces a $300 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19. Seattle City Council should propose and vote for a 50% cut from the $363 million already budgeted for SPD.
2- Seattle's Mayor and City Council must protect and expand investments to make our communities safe, prioritizing community-led health and safety strategies. Full access to affordable housing, community-based anti-violence programs, trauma services and treatment, universal childcare, and free public transit are just a few of the non-police solutions to social problems.
3- The Seattle City Attorney must not prosecute protesters, including those arrested violating curfew, and those living in encampments. Protesters took to the streets to call for the end of the murders of Black people by police, and SPD unnecessarily escalated tensions and violence.
Our schools, workplaces, and government offices frequently collaborate with police. The police are an occupying force in Black communities. Their brutality towards Black people is condoned and accepted as business as usual. We urge all local governmental and non-governmental entities to cut ties with the SPD. When they put on their badges, police officers cease to be members of the working class. In fact their primary role is to surveil, control, and silence all forms of dissent to support the continuity of a racist, harmful, murderous status quo.
These demands were prepared by COVID-19 Mutual Aid Seattle, a network of organizations and individuals who came together in response to COVID-19 to demand an abolitionist, anti-racist public health response to the COVID-19 crisis. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow us on Instagram at @covid19mutualaid, on Facebook at @covid19mutualaid, and on Twitter at @covid_mutualaid.
Want to sign on as an individual? Sign here: tinyurl.com/DefundSPD