Yesterday on Converge Media's Morning Update show, former Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell, who is running for mayor, dove a little deeper into his confusing platform for police reform. The plan now involves having a celebration every day the Seattle Police Department doesn't kill a Black person.
Harrell previously said that his plan to change the culture within SPD was to make every police officer watch the video of George Floyd's killing and then sign a pledge. I thought maybe he was just riffing, but no: it's actually part of his platform. In case you were itching to know, the first line of that pledge reads "The Inhumane Treatment of Fellow Human Beings Will Not Be Tolerated In Seattle."
Harrell explained that SPD culture change will start by identifying "20 to 30" informal leaders; people in an organization who say "what's tolerated or not" and "what's cool or uncool," Harrell explained. After identifying them by "name," Harrell said that SPD's culture will be changed. Bada bing, bada boom. The next step is to make sure that SPD celebrates that change.
"If today an African American was not shot at the hands of police we're gonna celebrate today," Harrell said. "And every Friday we're gonna celebrate."
Wait, wait, wait. Hold on just a minute. So the cops are going to watch George Floyd's death, make a pinky promise not to do that, and then throw pizza parties every Friday they don't kill anybody? And after that, no more Seattle cops will go to the United States Capitol to attend an insurrectionist rally? Why didn't anyone think of this before?
"You build a culture by knowing which norms are accepted and not accepted," Harrell said, "you celebrate the victories. You celebrate them."
Forget the healthcare workers, bang your pots and pans every night at 8 p.m. to celebrate your police department not shedding any blood! Unleash a primal scream every Friday to support the cops who went a whole week without killing.
Harrell continued: "That's what a police department has to do. They're going to watch the 8 minutes and 46 seconds [of the Floyd video] and they're going to say, "That's not going to happen here in Seattle." John T. Williams? [They're going to say], "That was murder. That's not going to happen here in Seattle." So we're going to change the culture, and you can't come from the top down—it has to come from within an organization. This has to change. If they're not in the program they've got to go. Working with unions, working with the captain, we're going to change the culture. We're going to catch them doing things right, and I'm going to need the community with me."
In Harrell’s defense, at least he’s out here getting specific. Former State Rep. Jessyn Farrell told The Stranger it was “far past time to transform public safety” in a way that “helps people thrive,” which involves “investing in alternatives” to policing. Her website doesn’t yet include a police reform platform, though she promised a “big” public safety proposal sometime soon. Seattle Council President Lorena Gonzalez said one of her “most important responsibilities” as mayor will be hiring a police chief “who is eager to lead a massive culture change of accountability, including investigating and removing officers with ties to white supremacy.” Chief Seattle Club director Colleen Echohawk mentioned “completely reimagining public safety.” Andrew Grant Houston doesn’t include a specific police reform plan on his website.
Harrell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.