Some voices from this morning's city hall press conference, in which Latino community leaders and others spoke out strongly about institutionalized racism, police brutality, and their demands for greater Seattle Police Department accountability in the wake of the alleged police assault against a young Latino man:

Estela Ortega, Associate Director of Latino advocacy group El Centro de la Raza, began the conference with a strong statement about the SPD.

“There is an insidious nature within the police force that causes officers and supervisors to remain silent,” Ortega said. “The Mayor, the City Council, Police Chief Diaz, and the Police Guild need to have zero tolerance for racial remarks, racial profiling, and the use of undue force.”

She continued with a list of specific demands for the immediate accountability of the officers involved, which was followed by thunderous applause from the supporters rallied on the stairs behind her.

Fe Lopez, President-Elect of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington spoke about the culture of silence which exists around institutionalized racism and expressed the importance of making changes at a systematic level, and holding the institution itself accountable.

“It is hard to make changes at this level, but we must, we must, we must work together to do that,” Lopez stressed.

Luis Ortega, co-chair of Alianza Student Coalition, spoke candidly about the negative effect this event has had on the Latino community’s relationship with Seattle police officers.

“We should feel safe and protected if we are close to a police officer, but we feel afraid,” Ortega said. “Trust has to be earned again from the Latino community. We are angry, disappointed, and saddened. But at the same time, we are hopeful… Hopeful that events like this will never take place again.”

Rev. Aaron Williams, senior pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church, spoke next about the African American community’s solidarity with the Latino community, and pledged his support and allegiance as a community leader.

“Whatever is done directly, affects all indirectly,” he said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King. “The incident that occurred in which a young Latino brother was racially insulted and stomped on by two members of the SPD... this not only affects the Latino community but also the African American community and every community of color.”

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He described the community’s betrayal at discovering that this incident was covered up for over two weeks and not dealt with directly, leading many to believe that it would never have surfaced if it hadn’t ended up on the internet.

“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then a video is worth 10,000 words,” Williams said. “The SPD seems to be dragging its feet in a case that seems to be clearly about racial profiling and police brutality. Dr. King dreamed of a beloved community; he dreamed that one day we would live in a nation where we would not be judged by the color of our skin. If we want Seattle to be a diverse, model community then we must act now, we must act with justice.”