Seattle ‘defunds’ their police department

Rachel Gima, Staff Writer

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is being called for removal after the release of her $6.5 billion plan for police funding on Tuesday, Oct. 6 marked the culmination of various controversial decisions she has made. 

The new budget plan clashes with sentiments of defunding the police that emerged earlier in the summer. These issues arose largely because of the Black Lives Matter movement and its focus on law enforcers’ inequitable treatment towards POC and the underprivileged. In response to the plan, the Seattle Human Rights Commission sent a letter on Oct. 7 to the Seattle City Council and mayor, detailing accusations against the latter for violations of Constitutional and human rights, ultimately calling for her resignation. 

“Seattle’s failure to be a human rights city rests in the action (and inaction) of its elected leaders,” the letter states. “By her actions and selective inaction, Mayor Jenny Durkan has shown us what leadership means to her and what she thinks of the people of Seattle. The negative impact of inaction will take generations to unwind.”

The plan caused such a significant response, largely because it arose as a response to a bill that would reduce funding for the Seattle Police Department by $3 million, and would be followed by a 50% cut next year. Durkan initially vetoed this bill, but the Seattle City Council overrode her veto, resulting in her new proposed plan.

 “We know we need more alternatives to sending police when 9-1-1 is called,” Durkan tweeted on Oct. 6. “That’s why we created the Health One program to help individuals experiencing [a nonemergency]. My 2021 budget proposes adding a second unit.”

The debate between advocates and opponents of the new budget plan continues to be discussed by Seattle citizens and its elected leaders, but is being analyzed by leaders nationwide. While defunding the police may have first gained popularity on the internet as a trending hashtag, the idea has taken hold in cities throughout the country, many of which are now following the progress in Seattle and looking to their own cities in attempts to fulfill the people’s demands for justice and look to minimize violence where it is not justified.