1. The Community Police Commission, the citizens group created as part of the Department of Justice 2012 consent decree to oversee reforms at the Seattle Police Department (the DOJ found patterns of "excessive use of force" at SPD during a 2011 investigation), sent a letter to the city council and mayor Ed Murray yesterday, demanding SPD suspend its use of “blast balls.”
Blast balls are mini tear gas bombs. The SPD fired the explosives at crowds during recent Black Lives Matter and May Day demonstrations, drawing criticism from the SPD’s in-house watchdog and from a Seattle Times reporter who was hit covering the 2015 May Day protests.
The CPC letter notes that despite complaints about blast balls in 2015 and follow-up SPD trainings, the use of blast balls caused concerns once again during 2016’s May Day protests.
The letter, signed by CPC co-chairs Harriet Walden and Lisa Daugaard, states:
Over a year ago we wrote the attached letter to Chief O’Toole after conversations with many people about how Black Lives Matter demonstrations were handled by SPD. We identified six issues that seemed to warrant high-level review, including “out of policy/harmful use of pepper spray, blast balls and other projectiles.” We noted that similar concerns arose from SPD’s handling of incidents on May Day 2015. It now seems evident from publicly available information that blast balls injured several people on May Day 2016, including several individuals who were reporting on or documenting events. Some of these injuries were serious. …
Due to this series of events, we reiterate the need we identified in May 2015 for a structured conversation in which the police and community members may together explore these issues. We again offer to convene that conversation unless an alternate forum is provided by the Council or other City leaders. Following that dialogue, we likely will offer recommendations for the use of blast-balls and the appropriate use of de-escalation tactics in crowd management situations. Until this can occur, we ask that the use of blast balls as a crowd management tool be suspended.
2. One of the persistent complaints about city hall's plans to facilitate growth (and produce affordable housing) by adding density at the edges of single family neighborhoods citywide is that the city has not provided the necessary infrastructure (buses, parking) to go along with the greater density. (Editorializing here, but the complaint seems a little whiny given that the city is actually spending nearly $1 billion extra on transportation upgrades.)
Now, the Wallingford Community Council has upped the ante on the complaint against density: More poop.
Late last week, the community council urged its members to write city hall about the lacking sewage infrastructure that's sure to come with more density.
The zone immediately North of Lake Union from The Locks to Lake Washington produces a significant proportion of the raw sewage dumping into the freshwater areas of Seattle. Wallingford, Ballard, Fremont, and the U-District dumped more than 130 million gallons of raw sewage into Lake Union, Salmon Bay, and the Ship Canal during 2014 (the most recent data available) alone.
If the HALA proposals to upscale zoning are successful, the increased housing density will exacerbate the existing raw sewage problem. Every new toilet added to the system means more fecal matter in our freshwater!
The Department of Neighborhoods recently issued a report questioning the outsized influence of community councils.
3. Two of the candidates in the Democratic Party intramural to take retiring U.S. representative Jim McDermott's (D-WA, 7) seat have released videos today.
One, from state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), is a bona fide TV ad; she's the first candidate to go up on TV, crediting her deep fundraising from grassroots small donors for making the expenditure possible. Jayapal's video focuses on her impressive resume as an immigrants rights activist and state senator.
King County council member Joe McDermott also put out a video today, a quick turnaround response to the mass shooting in Orlando. Joe McDermott has been focusing on gun control from the outset of his campaign urging gun control advocates to pursue a strategy of framing gun control as a public health issue to make guns easier to regulate.
4. State level candidates' latest fundraising reports are up online and the activist candidate, Hilary Franz, director of the grassroots environmental group Futurewise, running for public lands commissioner, is slightly ahead of the more establishment Democratic Party candidate, King County council member and former state house environmental chair Dave Upthegrove.
Franz has raised $79,000 so far while Upthegrove has raised about $77,000.