Tonight, Native American leaders are hosting a peaceful public forum on reforming the Seattle Police Department. The event, which begins at 6:00 p.m. at the Chief Seattle Club (2nd Avenue and Yesler Way), will include discussions on what police misconduct looks like and how to report it, and grassroots tips on how to pressure city leaders to make reform actually happen.
Confirmed panelists include Sandra Blair, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice, Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, State Senator Claudia Kauffman, Deborah Sioux Lee, who chairs the WA Indian Civil Rights Commission, and Chris Stearns, vice-chair of the Seattle Human Rights Commission.
Conspicuously missing from the list of panelists is a representative from SPD. Frankly, it doesn't make sense to have a discussion on police reform and not include a representative from the department. When organizing a forum, you want to bring together the people with the power to make change. If you're missing that element, what you're left with is a bunch of like-minded people bitching about a problem they cannot hope to solve themselves.
Meanwhile, people are still appalled and enraged by King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg's decision not to press Ian Birk with murder charges, after Birk's four-second, firing-squad-esque shooting of John T. Williams last summer.
We're still getting emails like this every day (emphasis mine):
"Satterberg tortures the legislature's qualified immunity standard at RCW 9A.16.040 beyond logic and meaning to absurdity," writes a former cop."The good faith standard presumes the person killed was engaged in a crime. Good faith only applies to the slayer’s state of mind about the necessity of force. It does not apply to the determination of the suspect’s criminal conduct in the first place. That requires reasonable belief that a serious crime has occurred, is occurring, or will imminently occur. Without that, you don’t even get to the good faith defense; it’s not available.
You also don’t get to claim self-defense if you started it, regardless of your intentions, beliefs, or faith. WA standard jury instructions on self-defense don’t allow consideration of self-defense if the killer was the primary aggressor. By all appearances, Birk was the one who disturbed the peace, started the confrontation, took it to Williams, and escalated it with unwarranted speed."
"Satterberg is either incompetent or duplicitous," simply writes another man.
Undoubtedly, there will be a lot of good venting at this forum. People are angry at Satterberg, angry at SPD, and unsure of how to proceed. Go to this event if you need a healthy dose of bitching with the choir.