Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5, North Seattle), Chair of the Council’s Public Assets and Native Communities Committee, issued the following statement in response to the community and Council’s ongoing conversations around defunding the Seattle Police Department by 50 percent:
“We have this moment to harness real change, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to rebuild our police department. I support reallocating the SPD budget and investing in communities that have lived with the ravages and inhumanity of racism. The protests were not just about violent and deadly policing. The pandemic exposed the ugliest facets of our country’s history: Racism. America could no longer look away from systemic and institutional racism, health inequities built into the system – deliberate and cruel barriers to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It’s true. It’s real. It’s here.
“Now our collective gaze is exactly where it should be. We need to rebuild our police department. The origins of law enforcement are rooted in violence. It is a history of racism, oppression and terror, and a belief that non-whites must be contained, abused, controlled, and enslaved. The truth is painful. That pain continues today.
“We need to plant a new tree because the roots, trunk, branches and fruit of this tree are poisoned, as are the future seeds. Therefore, in order to reorganize, reduce and reallocate such funds and duties, we need a plan, not a percentage.
“We need to know:
- What is being cut or reassigned
- What and where are such funds being reallocated to
- What is the overall allocation plan and implementation timeline
- Most importantly, what are the impacts on our sworn duty to uphold public safety
“As I have done my whole life, I reaffirm my pledge to fight for racial justice, to continue to destroy the legal foundations predicated on racism and hate. I approach this work with an immense love for my city, and the solemn oath I took to uphold and protect the U.S. Constitution, the Washington State Constitution, and City of Seattle Charter. There is a path forward where we can all come together. We must balance our desire for expediency with foresight to ensure these reforms are permanent. If we don’t, we risk losing the progress made by community leaders and jeopardizing the hard work of thousands demanding better for their communities, and for humanity.”