KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle Police, mayor’s office trying to ‘silence’ black community activist as ‘retaliation’

Jun 5, 2024, 5:55 PM

Photo: Victoria Beach....

Victoria Beach. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

Victoria Beach, a member of the Seattle Police Department’s African American Advisory Committee and an influential community activist, doesn’t like being silenced. But she alleges that’s precisely what the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the Mayor’s Office are demanding as she openly criticizes the decision to terminate Chief Adrian Diaz. She calls it “retaliation.”

Diaz was removed from his position following a series of high-profile complaints and lawsuits about a sexist and racist culture within the department. He’s been placed in a different unit as he weighs his next steps, almost assuredly outside of SPD. As he departs, Beach and other community activists who have worked with him closely say they’re angry. They worked with Diaz to form meaningful bonds with the black community, in particular. In Diaz, Beach felt she had a trusted ally who wanted to bridge the gap between the black community and police.

But now that Beach is vocally opposing the staffing decision, she said that she’s being silenced under threat of discipline, including termination.

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Why did Victoria Beach say she is being silenced by City of Seattle?

“The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH reached out to Beach to discuss the chief’s departure. She explained that she was told in a meeting from Command Staff that she’s not allowed to speak to media members anymore.

Beach suspects the orders came from Deputy Mayor Tim Burgess, a close ally of Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. Burgess is believed to be behind the changes to SPD, upset he hasn’t been able to control messaging and, in some cases, policy, according to sources.

“I met with Brian Maxey (Chief Operating Officer for SPD) and an assistant chief. I have orders that I can no longer do interviews,” Beach explained on the record. “They’re claiming policy even though when I got hired, there was a discussion about allowing me to do interviews. I believe this is retaliation because I stood up for the chief.”

Beach believes the demands of silence are to stop negative press around Diaz’s removal.

“I left today feeling betrayed and used,” Beach said.

Maxey confirmed the meeting took place in an email to “the Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH.

“All SPD employees, including Ms. Beach, are subject to SPD Policy Manual 1.110, which prohibits unauthorized media contacts. Ms. Beach was reminded of this policy and instructed to request permission before engaging with media, as is required of all employees regardless of the content of the engagement,” Maxey explained.

Burgess did not respond to a request for comment.

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Will this interview lead to termination?

By Seattle activist standards, Victoria Beach is atypical.

Beach has earned the ire of many officers for believing that the department’s culture allows for racism. She also has argued that the city must hire more police officers. More recently, she called out progressive activists for exploiting the death of Jaahnavi Kandula for ideological purposes. Kandula was hit by a patrol vehicle speeding to an overdose call. Video evidence shows that she tried to run across a crosswalk but miscalculated the speed of the oncoming vehicle.

Beach says she has previously been allowed to talk to media with few restrictions. If there are consequences for her speaking to the media now, it could come at a political cost. After lawsuits and complaints alleging racism and gender bias, will the department and mayor’s office feel comfortable firing a black, female, community activist?

To be clear, Beach said she wasn’t expressly told that if she gave interviews she’d be fired. But while “they didn’t say it in those words,” it seemed like termination was on the table. If she’s fired, she jokingly said, “I’d have to do a GoFundMe page.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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