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Sawant Announces Movement’s Victory with Dismissal of Motion to Remove Federal Oversight on Seattle Police

Sawant to introduce legislation banning police from purchasing or using chemical weapons including tear gas, mace, and pepper spray, along with rubber bullets, blast balls, water cannons, and sonic weapons

Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, issued this statement following the City’s announcement that it would withdraw its motion to terminate federal oversight of the police department:

Just this morning, I held a press conference with the Seattle/King County NAACP, community leaders, and people who have lost loved ones to police violence in recent years, to make it clear to the Mayor and the entire political establishment that the community is demanding a fundamental change, and that we will be building a fighting movement. 

Our first demand – put forward by the NAACP in a letter cosigned by dozens of community organizations and activists – was for the Mayor and the political establishment to withdraw their attempt to remove the police department from federal oversight. The City Attorney has just announced that he has agreed to the step that our community has demanded. 

Let’s be clear: This afternoon’s development was not a product of sudden political enlightenment. It was a concession wrested from the political establishment by our community organizing, including this morning’s press conference, and the courageous protests in the streets against police brutality and police killings. When we fight, we win! We have a long and hard struggle ahead, but building movements works!

Thank you so much to Councilmembers Mosqueda and Morales for signing on this afternoon to the letter initiated from my Council office.

Our movement will celebrate this afternoon’s victory, and keep getting organized to win our demands for substantial and fundamental change: an independent community-led investigation into police misconduct at the #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd protests with disciplining or firing the officers involved; an elected community police oversight board with full powers; no return of the North Precinct police bunker, and close the Youth Jail; cut the Seattle police budget in half, and use the proceeds to fund urgent social needs in the city, while ensuring police department employees can transfer to other city departments with full pay, benefits, seniority, and union rights; no to Mayor Durkan’s austerity – fund urgent community needs by taxing Amazon and other big businesses to fund COVID relief, jobs, social housing, and the Green New Deal; and cancel all rent, mortgage, and utility payments for the duration of the COVID crisis.

My office also will be introducing legislation to ban police use of chemical weapons (including tear gas, mace, pepper spray), rubber bullets/bean bags, water cannons, sonic/ultra-sonic weapons, and banning purchase of weapons, along with their use.

We will need a powerful movement to win these demands, but today shows that when we fight, we can win.

Please join us next Tuesday, June 9 at 6:00PM, at our movement’s public meeting as we Build the Movement Against Racism & Economic Inequality!

The Seattle/King County NAACP joined with Councilmember Sawant in applauding today’s victory, and noted “The SKC-NAACP applauds the city’s decision to withdraw its motion to terminate the Consent Decree.  The SKC-NAACP agrees with the City Attorney that the City’s best approach is to address those concerns that Judge Robart cited. Until the City meets its obligations to address the deficiencies in police accountability it should not be released from federal oversight.  We will continue our demands and will be watching, working and listening to ensure the City of Seattle’s and Seattle Police Department’s full accountability.”

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