The Seattle City Council overrode Mayor Jenny Durkan’s veto Tuesday evening and forced through budget cuts that activists say are a “down payment” on an effort to defund the police in the city by 50%.
In July, a veto-proof majority of council members backed a proposal to defund the police by 50%. Those cuts could not be implemented in one year, however, so the council settled on cutting 100 officers from the department this year as a “down payment.”
Mayor Durkan, who had initially backed the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ) or “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP) protest in the summer, vetoed the proposal, but her veto was ineffective.
The Seattle Times reported:
The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s vetoes of council bills meant to start shrinking the police force and scaling up community solutions this year. Council members chose to stick with the 2020 budget bills instead of a substitute proposal that the mayor had said she could accept.
The veto-override votes on the three bills were preceded by more than an hour of public comments, with most speakers urging council members to “hold the line” against the mayor and demonstrate they were listening to the Black Lives Matter movement. Several council members then sharply defended the bills as reasonable first steps toward revamping public safety in Seattle.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant credited “ferocious” pressure by the Black Lives Matter movement in recent days for Tuesday’s result, noting several colleagues kept constituents in suspense until the last minute.
The Seattle City Council overturned the veto to defund the police — and now there are serious consequences. Lost jobs, cut wages, and a lot more crime and homelessness. Watch my discussion this morning on FOX Business. pic.twitter.com/tXekkYANpQ
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) September 23, 2020
The veto-override votes on the three bills were preceded by more than an hour of public comments, with most speakers urging council members to “hold the line” against the mayor and demonstrate they were listening to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Several council members then sharply defended the bills as reasonable first steps toward revamping public safety in Seattle. Councilmembers Alex Pedersen and Debora Juarez dissented on one of three veto overrides; the other two overrides were unanimous.
Police chief Carmen Best resigned over the council’s efforts to cut her salary and her department’s budget.
Leading up to Tuesday’s meeting, council members were taking heat from constituents on both sides. The Seattle chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America organized a rally at a park near Councilmember Andrew Lewis’ Queen Anne apartment building, hoping a 11th-hour push would convince him to oppose Durkan.
A group called Move Seattle Forward, associated with the Downtown Seattle Association, thanked supporters for sending 1,000 pro-veto emails to council members last week.
The Seattle vote happened the night before riots associated with Breonna Taylor protests.