The initiative—I-873—would make it less impossible to prosecute police officers who kill in Washington State. Today, Seattle mayor Ed Murray joined unlikely bedfellow Kshama Sawant, as well as Representative Adam Smith and State Senators Pramila Jayapal and Bob Hasegawa as an endorser of the initiative. Asked for his position in a press conference this afternoon, the mayor said:
I support it. I believe Congressman Adam Smith is one of the leaders on this effort. Adam was chair of the Senate judiciary committee and I think understands this stuff better than anyone in the state. It is, I think, a sound move.
It's great to see the mayor taking a stand on this, defying police unions and prosecutors who successfully opposed a less drastic reform proposal during the last legislative session.
SPD had previously avoided taking position on the initiative. But this afternoon, a spokesperson said, "We fully support Mayor Ed Murray in this and will defer to the Office of Inter-Governmental relations and their work in the next legislative session... We support the mayor's position on the initiative, so by default, we support it."
"I'm ecstatic," said Devitta Briscoe, one of the organizers behind the initiative. Briscoe is the sister of Che Taylor, who was killed by Seattle police in February. She has crisscrossed the Puget Sound in recent months forging a coalition with others who have lost loved ones to police killings in Washington. "I've been really down today. It's been heartbreaking. His support will really help us reach our goal. I know that for sure."
The initiative requires 250,000 signatures by the end of this year in order to qualify for next year's statewide ballot.
"Had [Philando] Castile and [Alton] Sterling been white," Murray also said, "I believe they would be alive today."
On the local level, Murray sought to defend his record on police reform at the Seattle Police Department. He said he hopes to create a beefed up civilian inspector general oversight position by the end of the year. Last Friday, he announced that Seattle's existing civilian watchdogs would need to re-apply for their own jobs—a move that delighted Seattle's largest police union, which has directed a steady stream of vitriol at Office of Professional Accountability Director Pierce Murphy.