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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County Calls For Special Counsel To Investigate SPD And OPA

Today, Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County (BLMSKC) sent a letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the Office of Police Accountability (OPA).

In the letter — which comes on the heels of a federal court judge ruling that the Seattle Police Department violated a court order banning the use of chemical and other weapons against Seattle protesters in the spring, summer, and fall of 2020 — BLMSKC is demanding an investigation into the Seattle Police Department’s abandonment of the East Precinct during summer 2020 protests, specifically:

  • who gave the order or made the decision to abandon the precinct; 
  • whether public resources were used to coordinate it; and 
  • whether public safety was jeopardized because of it, among other questions.  

BLM is also demanding an investigation into OPA’s decisions in all investigations undertaken by that office in 2020, including: 

  • Whether the director of OPA or any staff, civilian or sworn officers, within the Office of Police Accountability unlawfully or unethically shared otherwise internal or confidential information with members of the media in “off the record” discussions where they are not identified by the publication as a named source for information regarding the actions of police officers or disciplinary decisions handed down by SPD, from August 1, 2018-September 2, 2020.
  • Whether these contacts or information shared were done to positively or negatively impact media or public perception of disciplinary decisions or actions taken by SPD during the same time period.
  • Why the conversations were not on the record.  

“There is a growing body of evidence to show SPD has failed to uphold its responsibilities, obey the law, and protect people over the past seven months,” BLMSKC said in the letter. “At worst, the evidence suggests SPD has, through its officers and in its capacity as an institution, consistently engaged in various unlawful practices. At best, the evidence suggests SPD has failed to uphold governing officer conduct policies.” 

“​​​This is a shameful stain on a city poised to lead the nation in creating systemic change and accountability; lest we forget, this is about protecting and saving lives, and holding those who use their position to cause harm or death, accountable,” the letter continued. “As you well know, #Defund isn’t about arbitrary budget numbers; it is about shrinking the footprint of government in our lives, and removing its boot from our necks.” 

Additionally, BLMSKC says that they sent a letter to the Office of the Inspector General in September requesting an investigation into alleged police misconduct during last summer’s protests. However, the group claims that while the letter was “met with expressed enthusiasm, there has been no action that ensures the people of Seattle understand what happened over the past year, and that those who are accountable are held responsible.” 

“The protests may have quieted for the time being, but demands for accountability will not until people are actually held accountable,” said BLMSKC in their letter to Durkan. “This investigation is essential for the community’s understanding of police conduct during protests—and it adds much needed transparency to the urgent process of creating authentic accountability for police in Seattle.”

You can read the full text of BLMSKC’s letter to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan here:


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