As you have likely read by now, the Seattle City Council voted 7-1 yesterday to launch the process of defunding the Seattle Police Department.
And they weren’t just playing around:
The council reviewed a final set of amendments Monday before the vote, which included reducing the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition as well as cutting the $285,000 annual salary of the Police Chief Carmen Best and other top officers. Best is the city’s first Black police chief and the pay cut would put her salary well below her White predecessor.
The plan would ultimately slash funding to the department but not the 50% some had sought. Seattle currently has around 1,400 police officers, and the current plan would see about 100 cut. It was also cut the police department’s $400 million budget by about $3 million, according to KOMO.
Oh, and about that one vote hold-out “no” vote—it came from Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative Party, who said the cuts do not go far enough.
Well, the cuts go plenty far for Andrea and Joe Raetzer, who announced yesterday that they will be permanently closing their once-thriving Steepologie Teas on 4th Ave in Seattle. The couple spoke to the local Fox affiliate:
‘It is with a heavy heart we are leaving this location,” Joe said.
Although the pandemic is causing unprecedented challenges for Steepologie Teas, the couple said that is not the reason they are shutting down their downtown branch.
‘What city council has done has been more detrimental to our business than a global pandemic, by far, absolutely,” said Joe.
The business owners said the city council’s plan to defund police means the end of the road for their flagship store.
Ms. Raetzer went on TV to plead in vain for more police in January, citing an uptick in drug deals and harassment, near her shop. Ms. Raetzer’s daughter was also assaulted inside the shop. Andrea, who is Hispanic, says that Seattle used to be a dream destination for minority businesses. But that is no longer the case:
If you drive around parts of downtown Seattle now, there is an air of desperation, with businesses boarded up storefronts on many streets and more homeless encampments.
“Driving through Pioneer Square is shocking now, over the past month there has been a complete decline,” Andrea said of businesses.
The Seattle City Council’s move to slash the police budget flies in the face of a recent Gallup poll that found that 81 percent of black citizens want the police presence in their neighborhoods to remain the same or be increased.
Speaking about the effect of defunding on minorities, the most recently hired Seattle PD officers, a higher percentage of whom are minority members than in the past, will be the first to be let go.
According to Seattle radio host Jason Rantz, one member of the Council made what appears to be a faux stand in favor of minority officers:
Realizing this is a bad look, white Councilmember Lisa Herbold suggests the Seattle Police Department seek permission to exclusively fire white officers. This is, of course, illegal discrimination and flatly racist. It also makes little sense to fire officers who have more experience.
Herbold knows this won’t happen. She’s merely hoping it’ll give her a pass when the public realizes she played a pivotal role in firing people of color.
Once again, those who grandstand in the name of minorities they claim to represent harm these minorities the most.