Local Responses to Charlottesville
Though Seattle's protests were organized before events unfolded in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Seattle Times reported, tensions ran high locally as dozens of pro-Trump supporters were met with hundreds of counter-protesters in Westlake.
Virginia's governor declared a state of emergency after the racial violence in Charlottesville—where a rally of white supremacists holding Nazi and Confederate flags was met with counterprotesters over the removal of the city's statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Violence escalated when a member of the white nationalist group plowed his car into a crowd, killing a woman and injuring 19 others, according to national reports.
Elected officials responded Sunday with statements condemning white nationalists and President Donald Trump's response to the violence, in which he condemned bigotry and violence on "many sides" and refused to acknowledge questions specifically about white supremacists.
"Let me be clear: There aren't 'many sides' here. There are simply two: right and wrong," congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said in a lengthy statement Sunday.
King County executive Dow Constantine also issued a statement condemning the pro-Trump protesters:
"To the white supremacists and fascinates who gathered today at Westlake Center under the false pretense of patriotism the day after the violence that a similar group sparked in Charlottesville, I have a message to share on behalf of the people of King County: We fought a Civil War against slavery, and you lost. We have a World War against fascism, and you lost. Today, we stand united against the hateful rhetoric you have brought to our community. And you will lose again."
Mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan also sent a statement Sunday and said Seattle should "bend the arc of justice more firmly" and go beyond condemning hatred to address racial inequality.
"Condemning the racists acts of the Virginia mob is in a way too easy. It allows us to direct the focus on the most extreme, without examining more honestly the harder truths about inequality and racism—both individual and institutional—in America," she said. "We all bear responsibility for the fact that the American promise has been denied to so many."
My heart is w/ those impacted by the horrific violence today. It's time for leaders to stand together & speak out against hatred & bigotry.— Senator Patty Murray (@PattyMurray) August 12, 2017
The hate and bigotry shown in Charlottesville is deplorable and contrary to America's values of acceptance and respect.— Sen. Maria Cantwell (@SenatorCantwell) August 13, 2017
The hatred & bigotry displayed today in #Charlottesville has no place in our country. Love must win over hate.— Dave Reichert (@davereichert) August 13, 2017
City of Seattle
Today is the last day for challenged ballots to be counted as King County Elections prepares to certify results on Tuesday. Jenny Durkan and Carry Moon will be facing off in the November 7 general election after Moon edged out third-place contender Nikkita Oliver, but both Moon and Oliver said they would wait until all ballots have been counted before making statements officially conceding or declaring victory. It's unlikely Oliver would fall within the range to signal an automatic recount (0.5 percentage point difference in the total votes between the two candidates).
Mayor Ed Murray nominated Colleen Echohawk and Emma Catague to the Community Police Commission (CPC) in a statement on Wednesday. Echohawk is executive director of the Chief Seattle Club, a member of the Kithehaki Band of the Pawnee Nation and the Upper Ahtna Athabascan people of Mentasta Lake. Catague is co-founder of the Asian Pacific Islander Women and Family Safety Center and currently works for the Filipino Community of Seattle.
Two big pieces of legislation addressing homelessness came to the forefront last week.
Council member Lisa Herbold's Fair Chance Housing legislation will be put to a vote at the regular council meeting today after it passed out of committee last week. The bill prohibits landlords from screening tenants based on their criminal background. Only those listed on sex-offender registries could be denied housing based on a legitimate business concern from the landlord. The civil-rights committee also eliminated a clause that allowed landlords to consider convictions that were less than two years old.
And council member Mike O’Brien is proposing an ordinance that would exempt homeless people living in their vehicles from parking enforcement for one year if they enroll in a program designed to connect them to services. The last count estimated 40 percent of homeless people were living in their vehicles, and O'Brien currently proposes the bill—still in drafting stages—to create dozens of RV "safe lots" around the city for extended campers.
Murray last year signed a similar executive order, but the program eventually died due to rising costs. Financial concerns will be a major barrier to overcome, O'Brien acknowledged at a press conference Thursday. O'Brien made his drafted ordinance public after a KING 5 report on the bill, which O'Brien criticized as "misleading" in a YouTube video he posted.
Washington state Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Seattle's gun tax, a big win for council member Tim Burgess who championed the bill.
In 2015, the city council passed an ordinance to charge gun shops $25 for every gun sold and and a nickel for every round of ammunition to fund gun violence research and prevention programs. The National Rifle Association sued the city, arguing that state law prohibited any city ordinances related to firearms. The Supreme Court sided with Seattle in an 8-1 ruling, saying cities are granted "broad tax powers, including the authority to levy a flat tax on gun sales."
Burgess in a statement Thursday said gun violence costs the city $180 million a year, and the gun tax makes Seattle the first city in the U.S. to directly fund gun violence research.
"It’s truly disappointing that the NRA and its allies always oppose these common sense steps to shine light on the gun violence epidemic," he said in a statement. "That makes today an especially huge win. I hope other cities in Washington now feel comfortable to follow suit.”