Friday, August 12, 2016

SEATTLE: #BlockTheBunker

Although city council meetings on the North Seattle Precinct (better known as a "police bunker” to local activists, given its design) have been packed larger than any other meeting I have been to—surpassed only by the final vote on the fifteen (15) dollar an hour bill in 2014—not much news coverage up until recently has been given to the one-hundred-and-forty-nine million (149,000,000) dollar project, which was eighty-eight million (88,000,000) as of last year.

A photo of the city council meeting I took on my phone right as it was about to start. About 10-15 more people made their way in later. The seats were all filled and people were all along the wall by the time most people were speaking.

So here is a bit of information about the most expensive precinct on the continent. The North Seattle Precinct will
  • Be located at Aurora and 130th
  • Be bomb- and ballistics-proof
  • Extend three stories underground where training with armored vehicles like those seen to break up protests in Ferguson, Missouri and more recently in Baton Rouge, Louisiana will take place
  • Contain a gun range (also underground)
  • Have a huge parking garage that will have three parking spaces for every single officer
  • An above-ground “community space”
  • Contain plenty of storage room for military-style riot gear


The Seattle Police Department, simply put, does not need this money to do the job it does now. In addition, there is an issue of giving any agency under federal scrutiny for racist bias and excessive use of force, such as the Seattle Police Department, more funding.

Furthermore, from the murder of Deaf, Indigenous woodcarver John T. Williams in 2010, to the murder of Che Taylor by Seattle police officers this year, there is reason to be suspicious that police are effective at keeping communities (particularly communities of color and disabled communities) safer. Other communities known to be targeted include the LGBTQ communities, particularly the 30-40% of homeless youth in Seattle who identify as LGBTQ and most especially homeless queer, trans youth of color.

It is blatantly obvious that the city should not throw money it says it does not have for public services at an organization not doing the intended job—particularly if they are resistant towards doing their intended job, as exemplified by the recent fallout in the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) contract negotiations. (That is, if we are to take an optimistic view of what the role of policing is.)

If they approve a precinct that costs $60 million more than its originally proposed cost, councilmembers would be prioritizing showy design over other needs in the city, particularly in the north end.In that area, some children must walk to school in the street or tiptoe along the edge of ditches because the city has long said it cannot afford sidewalks. The 2015 Move Seattle levy funds only a portion of this overdue work.

That is why we need to keep up the pressure to #BlockTheBunker. If you have contacts within or are part of an LGBTQ, Disability, anti-racist, Feminist, Labor, etc. organization—contact them about making a statement against the North Seattle Precinct.  Please also call and email city councilmembers, stating your opposition—make sure to include any connections you have to local organizations/communities, this signals to staffers you represent votes and money that could be swayed against their boss.

Contact the city council NOW, especially councilmembers Gonzalez, Harrell, Herbold, and Johnson and demand that:
1.   Black lives, and lives of people of color generally, actually begin to matter in Seattle when it comes to city policies and projects.
2.   They either vote against the resolution being pushed in favor of allocating 149 million dollars to the police bunker and/or call to postpone voting on the resolution until Councilmember Sawant returns from India.
3.   They access and USE the Racial Equity Toolkit (seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/RSJI/RacialEquityToolkit_FINAL_August2012.pdf), before any further action is taken in favor of the bunker. There is a process the council is NOT following at this time.
4.   They not make any money allocations at this time. The community is forced to wait until September-October of each year to present any funding requests, often much smaller in scale. The SPD should NEVER have priority over the community.
5.   They defund this bunker project completely. There are viable public safety alternatives that cost far less in taxpayer dollars and Black lives.
206-684-8803 lisa.herbold@seattle.gov

206-684-8804 bruce.harrell@seattle.gov
206-684-8016 kshama.sawant@seattle.gov

206-684-8808 rob.johnson@seattle.gov

206-684-8805 debora.juarez@seattle.gov

206-684-8800 mike.obrien@seattle.gov

206-684-8801 sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov

206-684-8806 tim.burgess@seattle.gov

206-684-8802 lorena.gonzalez@seattle.gov
Update: A few more things you can do

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