THE DEMANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE BLACK VOICES AT FREE CAPITOL HILL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
In credit to the people who freed Capitol Hill, this list of demands is neither brief nor simplistic. This is no simple request to end police brutality. We demand that the City Council and the Mayor, whoever that may be, implement these policy changes for the cultural and historic advancement of the City of Seattle, and to ease the struggles of its people. This document is to represent the black voices who spoke in victory at the top of 12th & Pine after 9 days of peaceful protest while under constant nightly attack from the Seattle Police Department. These are words from that night, June 8th, 2020.
For ease of consideration, we’ve broken these demands into four categories: The Justice System, Health and Human Services, Economics, and Education.
Given the historical moment, we’ll begin with our demands pertaining to the Justice System.
The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE in the city of Seattle.
In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely. No guns, no batons, no riot shields, no chemical weapons, especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.
We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails. Get kids out of prison, get cops out of schools. We also demand that the new youth prison being built in Seattle currently be repurposed.
We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability. In particular, we demand that cases particular to Seattle and Washington be reopened where no justice has been served, namely the cases of Iosia Faletogo, Damarius Butts, Isaiah Obet, Tommy Le, Shaun Fuhr, and Charleena Lyles.
We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record. Anonymity should not even be a privilege in public service.
We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison after the arrests made at 11th and Pine on Sunday night and early Saturday morning June 7th and 8th, and any other protesters arrested in the past two weeks of the uprising, the name Evan Hreha in particular comes to mind who filmed Seattle police macing a young girl and is now in jail.
We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
We demand the City of Seattle and State Government release any prisoner currently serving time just for resisting arrest if there are no other related charges, and that those convictions should also be expunged.
We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
We demand an end to prosecutorial immunity for police officers in the time between now and the dissolution of the SPD and extant justice system.
We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
We demand autonomy be given to the people to create localized anti-crime systems.
We demand that the Seattle Police Department, between now and the time of its abolition in the near future, empty its “lost and found” and return property owned by denizens of the city.
We demand justice for those who have been sexually harassed or abused by the Seattle Police Department or prison guards in the state of Washington.
We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that each and every SPD officer turn on their body cameras, and that the body camera video of all Seattle police should be a matter of easily accessible public record.
We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.
We also have economic demands that must be addressed.
We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
We demand that between now and the abolition of the SPD that Seattle Police be prohibited from performing “homeless sweeps” that displace and disturb our homeless neighbors, and on equal footing we demand an end to all evictions.
We demand a decentralized election process to give the citizens of Seattle a greater ability to select candidates for public office such that we are not forced to choose at the poll between equally undesirable options. There are multiple systems and policies in place which make it impractical at best for working-class people to run for public office, all of which must go, starting with any fees associated with applying to run for public office.
Related to economic demands, we also have demands pertaining to what we would formally call “Health and Human Services.”
We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.
We demand that the city create an entirely separate system staffed by mental health experts to respond to 911 calls pertaining to mental health crises, and insist that all involved in such a program be put through thorough, rigorous training in conflict de-escalation.
Finally, let us now address our demands regarding the education system in the City of Seattle and State of Washington.
We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.
Transcribed by @irie_kenya and @AustinCHowe. Special thanks to Magik for starting and facilitating the discussion to create this list, to Omari Salisbury for the idea to break the list into categories, and as well a thanks to Kshama Sawant for being the only Seattle official to discuss with the people on Free Capitol Hill the night that it was liberated.
Although we have liberated Free Capitol Hill in the name of the people of Seattle, we must not forget that we stand on land already once stolen from the Duwamish People, the first people of Seattle, and whose brother, John T. Williams of the Nuu-chah-nulth tribe up north was murdered by the Seattle Police Department 10 years ago.
Black Lives Matter — All day, Every day.■
The Capital Hill Autonomous Zone is an occupied area of Seattle, taken on June 8 2020 during BLM Protests and encompasses around 6 city blocks. You can find out more, and watch the live streaming at www.caphillauto.zone
Black Lives Matter protests have spread around the world, from major cities, to the kind of small towns that haven’t had any protests in years. White people have wanted to, and in many cases have been invited to, support the protests and join the struggle against white supremacy.
However. There are different ways to do this, and some are lot better than others. We’ve compiled a list of dos and don’ts (or do’s and don’ts) based on suggestions given to us (the white authors of this article) by black people, and other people of colour involved in the BLM movement. Views are of course by no means universal, but there is a common thread of criticism that we hope this helps to spread.
So my fellow white anarchists, white leftists, white accomplices, and even you, well meaning white liberal friend I haven’t spoken to since school, this list is for you.
✔️Do take the time to look for black people organising demos in your area ❌Don’t rush to call your own white organised demo
✔️Dolisten to black people speaking at the demonstrations ❌Don’t take the stage to share your Very Important White Opinions™
✔️Do make placards and banners using the slogans popular in BLM movements, especially local ones ❌Don’t cover them in the branding of your political group as an advertising exercise
✔️Do use the resources you have, and contact black groups to offer them, for example: ✔️Do hand out bottles of water, PPE and food ✔️Do offer to act as a street medic, cop watcher, or legal observer ✔️Do help organise training so new black activists can do the above ❌Don’t just show up and start selling your paper
✔️Do call out your white friends for their racism and bad takes ❌Don’t constantly argue ‘devils advocate’ with your black friends
✔️Do take a mask, and keep it on ✔️Do take hand sanitizer, and use it ✔️Do take spare PPE ❌Don’t go if you’ve got a cough ❌Don’t unnecessarily increase the risk of coronavirus
❌Don’t start shouting ‘fuck the police’ when no one else is ✔️Do join in shouting ‘fuck the police’ if groups of black people start it
✔️Do give your money to black led groups and to individuals who need it ✔️Do convince your group, union branch, workplace, to do likewise. ❌Don’t tell all your black friends about it and then pause as if waiting for applause
✔️Do offer to share legal advice, bust cards, or tips on dealing with protest policing if useful ❌Don’t assume you know more than black protest organisers
✔️Do put yourself between the police and the crowd, if you are able to tough it out or risk arrest ❌Don’t try and start a fight with a so far placid group of cops to show how tough you are ❌Don’t repeat the patronising narrative that riots can only be cause by white people ‘tricking’ black people into them
✔️Do go out of your way to share the speeches and stories that black people posted publicly from the demonstration you attended ❌Don’t treat this as a photo opportunity, especially when your selfies may lead to criminal charges for others
✔️Do realise you are going to fuck up. We all fuck up. ❌Don’t react defensively when someone points out you’ve fucked up.
❌Don’t come if you want to be the centre of attention ❌Don’t think the important thing is how many new people you can add to your group ❌Don’t get in an argument with black demonstrators about any of the above ❌Don’t assume this list is exhaustive. Search for more.
✔️Do realise this is a time to support a movement you don’t control ✔️Do come, when invited, and if you are prepared to follow the lead of black people in the crowd.
Our thanks to the people who help us to improve by using their time, experience, and critique. If wish to add to this list, criticise it, or suggest we change it’s wording, get in touch with us via social media or email. ■