Last week, we reported on a momentous court hearing in which Western District federal judge James Robart, who oversees Department of Justice-mandated reforms of the Seattle police department, declared, "Black lives matter." He citied FBI statistics showing that African-Americans are 20 percent of the population, but 41 percent of police casualties in major cities. The judge also threatened to steamroll over Seattle's biggest police union if it resists reforms through its contract negotiation process with the city.
The court doesn't allow reporters to take photos or record, but thanks to its Camera in Courts program, you can watch some of the hearing yourself, above—plus highlights of comments from the Community Police Commission, Department of Justice, and Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes.
Want to watch the whole 90 minute hearing? Go here and scroll down to part five.
The devil is in the details, but Robart's assessment of the current state of the reforms is as follows:
I think the events of the last six months should be a lesson that we are not there yet. And I'm not sure that we can get there overnight... We need to change persons, police officers, perceptions... Is the system at this time perfect? No. Does it need constant attention? Yes. Is the city better constitutionally policed than when we started? Undeniably yes. But we have a ways to go.
Robart will have the final word on whether, through the reforms, Seattle police have adequately addressed the federal government's concerns about racial bias and eliminated a pattern of excessive force.