Here's what Mayor Ed Murray's declaration that Seattle will remain a sanctuary city for undocumented immigrants means: It means that in Seattle, it will keep being against city law for police to ask someone's immigration status unless there's reasonable suspicion they committed a crime. It means police won't be profiling and rounding up suspected immigrants, checking them for identification, and deporting them—not if Murray can do anything about it.
Sergeant Sean Whitcomb said the mayor is "showing leadership on all these fronts" and the police department stands fully behind him. Whitcomb's boss, Chief Kathleen O'Toole, said the undocumented "need to know we will be there for them, for ordinary police services and also when they are exploited, threatened, or victimized." Sergeant Whitcomb added: "We're not some state apparatus that's here to squelch people's rights."
Still, protests often disrupt business as usual. City council member Kshama Sawant is calling for a complete shutdown of business as usual on Inauguration Day. If push comes to shove, will police crack down on protesters who want to grind the city to a halt as a show of resistance to Trump?
As Seattle protested Trump's victory, at least a few Seattle police officers were celebrating it on social media. One called out the mayor's reaction to Trump's win as "one of the most pathetic political episodes I've ever seen." Another officer wrote, "Restore law and order and it's ok to say stop being a pussy. This is a great day for law enforcement... I'm pumped."
Council Member Lorena González, a child of immigrants who now oversees the police as chair of the public safety committee, has a blunt message for those officers: "It needs to be very clear from Chief O'Toole to rank and file and to leadership within the police department [that] we expect you to do your police work in a constitutional manner. That means that you respect people's due process and equal rights under the Constitution. The fact that those statements are being made is another sign of why police reform, in spite of a Trump administration, is important."
If you want to get involved in policing the police, go to the next Black Lives Matter protest, volunteer with the ACLU of Washington, or join a grassroots citizen watchdog like the Center for Open Policing. The Community Police Commission is also a great starting place for local reform efforts.Read the full feature The Resistance: How to Defeat Donald Trump's Plot Against America