Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes issued the following statement regarding George Floyd, recent demonstrations in Seattle, and the federal consent decree with the Seattle Police Department:
“We’ve witnessed historic events this past week. We saw protests erupt in cities across our nation in reaction to an heinous act by a Minneapolis police officer, rooted in a larger history of racially disproportionate policing. George Floyd’s murder was gruesome and the Minneapolis officers’ apparent nonchalance chilled me to the bone. I am struggling with feelings of sadness, grief, and anxiety, and know I am not alone.
“We’re deep into an economic crisis in which people of color are disproportionately losing their jobs. We face a pandemic in which people of color are more likely to die. We operate in a criminal justice system in which people of color are much more likely to find themselves entangled, echoing the Jim Crow chain gangs—which in turn perpetuated the evils of slavery beginning in Virginia four centuries ago, despite the Civil War and the 13th Amendment. No thinking person can deny that our society is fundamentally unjust. These are issues rooted in trauma and continue to traumatize our nation today.
“Here in Seattle, I’ve been closely monitoring the response to demonstrations, and 14,000 complaints to our Office of Police Accountability (OPA) in recent days signal that we are about to witness the most vigorous testing ever of our City’s accountability systems. As OPA undertakes its independent investigation of misconduct allegations, it’s become clear to me that we need to pause before asking U.S. District Judge James Robart to terminate the sustainment plan elements of the federal consent decree so that the City and its accountability partners can conduct a thorough assessment of SPD’s response to the demonstrations.
“Therefore, I intend to withdraw the City from the pending motion before the Court, until we thoroughly review and assess SPD’s response to recent demonstrations. I hope and expect that the City will continue to refine its proposal to address the Court’s concerns relating to accountability. The City will then be in a better and more informed position to submit further briefing to the Court in collaboration with the parties to the Consent Decree.”