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Seattle council fires back at criticism from mayor, SPD chief over police defund proposals

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez. (Seattle Channel)

Councilmembers spoke out Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Mayor Jenny Durkan and SPD Chief Carmen Best criticized plans to cut funding to the city’s police department.

Durkan, Chief Best decry proposal to begin SPD layoffs in November

On Tuesday afternoon, Durkan and Best decried a council proposal to lay off roughly 100 SPD employees beginning Nov. 1, while urging councilmembers to bring the police department and Mayor’s Office to the negotiating table in the days ahead.

Council President Lorena Gonzalez spoke to that on Wednesday ahead of a day-long discussion over several amendments under consideration, which could dramatically alter SPD’s budget both this and next year.

“I had a 60-minute phone call with this mayor yesterday, several hours in advance of her press conference, where I openly invited her and the chief to a conversation about how we chart a collaborative path forward on delivering on this transformational change,” Gonzalez noted. “I was disappointed to hear that not only had she accepted that invitation first, but she went then before a set of cameras to continue to misrepresent this council’s willingness to engage collaboratively and in a non-divisive way.”

Durkan and Best have been vocal in their opposition to several SPD budget proposals discussed in city council in recent weeks, holding numerous press conferences to detail alternative plans of their own, while insisting on more gradual, less dramatic changes.

Responding to that sentiment Wednesday was Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, pointing to the need for urgent action.

Seattle council divided over proposals to defund police department

“We’re not going to be bullied into doing nothing,” she said. “But what we want is for this to be a thoughtful, thorough, and transparent conversation. I think that it’s important that we’ve shown to community members that we’re not just saying ‘no.'”

“(Mayor Durkan) is hoping that this whole effort to demilitarize and divest from the police will blow over in a matter of months,” Gonzalez added. “Her strategy to delegitimize, delay, and distract us from this effort is being done in hopes that the political winds will change.”

The council is expected to vote on a series of amendments to the SPD budget on Wednesday, ahead of a full council vote scheduled for Monday, Aug. 10.

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