Jay Hollingsworth, a Native American activist and co-founder of the John T. Williams Organizing Committee, stands in the middle of a 100-person crowd of protesters assembled at City Hall and announces that Ian Birk has resigned from the Seattle Police Department. The crowd screams and cheers, but it's not a happy sound. After learning that Birk wouldn't face criminal charges earlier today, they feel cheated out of seeing Birk disciplined by SPD.


"He’s a murderer no matter what clothes he’s wearing!” a protester shouts, referring to Birk trading his blue uniform for civilian clothes.

"Now we're not even going to see him officially disciplined," says Anwar Peace, an active police-accountability activist. "It's great that he will no longer have him in the department but to not get that discipline is saddening."

Though the Seattle Police Department's Office of Professional Accountability will still finish reviewing Birk's case, and will make a recommendation for discipline, it obviously won't be meted out. Instead, it will simply go into his file.

"We're being cheated out of justice!" someone else screams.

The crowd swells in number, to maybe 100 people, chanting, drumming, and holding signs that call for police brutality to stop, for government corruption to stop, and for justice to begin. Some compare Seattle police to Nazis. At one point, the crowd shouts for city council members to come down and speak with them. No council member does. Neither does the mayor. A few central staffers watch the protest from the second-floor balcony.

Even though the matter of Birk facing criminal charges is settled in the mind of the King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, it is a hope, and a goal, still very much alive among this group of people. People talk of organizing a sit-in at Satterberg's office.

"Now that he's a private citizen, let's charge him with murder," says Sweetwater Nannauck, the co-founder of the John T. Williams Organizing Committee, which started this rally. "Now that he's resigned, he could go get a job somewhere else. He could go to another city and keep killing people. He should have been fired."

Hollingsworth reads a statement written by Tim Ford, the attorney who's representing the Williams family and will likely bring a civil suit against Birk. "The King County Prosecutor is wrong about the facts, wrong about the law, and wrong on the matter of public policy,” Hollingsworth reads. The crowd cheers. Ford’s statement goes on further to say that there’s enough proof that Birk acted with malice—it was Birk who drew his weapon, it was Birk who followed Williams down the street—as the crowd screams “Murderer!” and “Hang him!”

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Ford says the 30-year-old law that Satterberg used to justify his decision has never been interpreted by a court. "It's about time!" the people scream.

"There is no sense of justice," Nannauck says, as many in the crowd assembled here do. "There is no justice done."

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