SEATTLE – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will propose $20 million in cuts to the police budget in the remainder of 2020, the most of any department as the city attempts to fill a hole of about $400 million caused by the coronavirus.
Durkan proposes slashing about 5% of the Seattle Police budget this year with an officer hiring freeze until a new plan is developed “reflecting community priorities for public safety,” The Seattle Times reported. Many of the protests that have dominated Seattle for weeks have demanded a 50% cut to the police department’s budget as a key goal. Durkan has asked the department to prepare models of what 20%, 30% and 50% budget cuts would look like.
Also on Tuesday police were investigating the third shooting incident near a neighborhood protest zone in Seattle that has been occupied since a police station was largely abandoned after clashes with demonstrators over a week ago.
Durkan said Monday the city would move to wind down the protest zone following the shootings that have distracted from changes sought by thousands of peaceful protesters opposing racial inequity and police brutality.
Early Tuesday, the latest shooting left a man in his 30s wounded in the Capitol Hill neighborhood east of downtown. His injuries were not life-threatening.
Lorenzo Anderson, 19, was killed Saturday and the condition of a 33-year-old man shot around the same time was upgraded Monday to satisfactory. A 17-year-old boy was shot in the arm Sunday night near the area. He was treated at a hospital and released.
Police said the latest victim refused to provide any information about the shooting or a suspect description.
Less activity was seen Tuesday on the streets of the protest zone, but a nearby park where people have been camping for weeks remained bustling.
Durkan has said police will soon return to the station where police clashed with protesters following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Protesters cordoned off the several-block area near the East Precinct after riot squads used tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bangs on large crowds of mostly peaceful protesters. The tactics have drawn condemnation from city leaders and a federal court order temporarily halting the use of the weapons on demonstrators.
Police Chief Carmen Best said in a letter Tuesday to the community that the situation requires a complete re-envisioning of safety and the police department’s role in it.
“We have listened for generations, and we will continue to listen," Best said. "But the time for talk and committees is over. We must act. Together.”
She provided a draft of discussion items such as redesigning the mission of city police to reflect humanization not criminalization; allowing a resident to join the command staff; and working with neighbors to determine which non-violent 911 calls can acceptably be passed to other agencies or turned over to the community.
AP photographer Elaine Thompson contributed from Seattle.