In a 7-1 vote this evening amid angry protests, the Seattle City Council endorsed the construction of a new north Seattle police station in a non-binding resolution, but not before making concessions to Black Lives Matter activists who opposed the project and rallied around the hashtag #BlocktheBunker. (Council Member Kshama Sawant, who opposes the new police station, is out of the country getting married.)
The resolution is significantly different from the one advanced by Council Member Lorena González last week: It stops short of endorsing any cost for the building, leaving that contentious debate for the council's fall budget session. The previous version of the resolution set a $149 million price tag, which would have made the precinct among the most expensive in the nation.
It also requires the city to engage in a racial equity analysis to inform the design of the building, and creates a third-party auditing process to search for additional potential savings.
González, a former civil rights attorney who has sued the Seattle police department over excessive use of force, praised the activists as "incredibly insightful" and said discussions with them had influenced the final product.
Proponents of the project say the current North precinct station is decrepit, crowded, and needs replacing. The new three-story station will include a firing range and space needed for training to implement Department of Justice-mandated reforms.
Council Member Lisa Herbold said protesters should help the city transform the station from, for them, a symbol police brutality, into one of police accountability.
Activists want more, however: They crowded into City Hall and repeatedly interrupted the council, pushing past rope lines and at times drowning out the council with chants (a few of them hurled ugly invective, too).
"We will not stop until the number [cost of precinct] is zero," said one speaker.
Council Member Mike O'Brien, the only vote against the resolution, told the crowd to focus on lobbying other city council representatives if they want the precinct project stopped in its tracks.
"You need more than my one vote," he said.
If they're to succeed, they'll need to keep organizing over the coming months and assemble an even larger coalition against the precinct—and coalesce around a concrete alternative approach that, in their view, truly offers community safety.
Heidi Groover contributed reporting.