Exactly two months after protestors broke into Seattle city hall demanding Mayor Jenny Durkan resign over her refusal to defund the police, the not-silent-anymore majority stood outside that same building voicing their support for Seattle Police Department (SPD).
About 5,000 supporters of SPD gathered on Sunday to oppose the Seattle City Council’s plans to defund police. That, according to stopdefunding.com, would mean “over half of all Seattle police officers [would be fired,] immensely longer 911 response times and of course, higher crime rates.” Here’s what some of them had to say.
Alex, an off-duty cop, attended the rally and was grateful that “the silent majority was speaking up.” He noted, “We hear that people support us, but today we see it.”
The self-identified “American Flag Guy from CHAZ/CHOP” showed up to support “law and order.” He is interested in police reform, not defunding. American Flag Guy ironically noted that the ideas animating the defund the police counter-protestors were the greatest source of “oppression” that he faced “as a black man in America” today.
Two men waving “Back the Blue” flags were there to “make sure the police don’t get defunded because of a radical minority.” Asked about their chief concerns, the pair noted that “when you defund the police, crime goes up” and added, pointing to the counter protestors, “They don’t understand that will hurt the minority community the most.”
Two women who work for the African American Community Advisory Council (AACAC) which emphasizes youth outreach and community engagement, attended Sunday’s rally. Victoria Deach, chair of the AACAC, has been “trying to bridge the gap between the black community and SPD and so far it’s been really good.”
But she’s concerned that the current effort to defund the police means she’s “worked her butt off for nothing.” Although she voted for some members of the city council in the last election, if they defund the police, she will do whatever she can to “get them out.”
Felicia Cross is worried the movement to defund the police will undo all the progress the SPD has made in the black community. Felicia has “watched police officers get people out of their cars and into housing” and notes that the AACAC (which is on the chopping block if the SPD is defunded) provides “200 beds for kids every year.” Felicia is scared and notes that if the city council has its way, she’s “not ever coming out of my house again.”
One cop who “got the day off just to attend this rally” created a sign spoofing the “racism is small dick energy” signs waved in his face on the job.
“I’m here because [the protesters have] been messing with me for two weeks,” he says. “I just have to stand in line and they’ve been throwing urine bottles at me, feces, rocks, bricks, they’ve been calling me racial slurs, homophobic slurs, so I figured I’d take the day off today and practice my right as well and come out here and tell them what I think.”
While he believes in affordable housing, equality, and getting people off the street, he thinks the city council “is reckless” and wishes they’d “run the city like grownups.”
One young woman who thought she “would be the only one there” was surprised to see the crowded plaza. Why did she attend? “Because black lives matter,” and that means “we need the police.”
Two Iranian immigrants held signs that read “Back the Blue” and “We love #SPD.” One sign stated “we love the police” in both Persian and Arabic. They were at the rally because “in this country we feel comfortable when the police are around,” while police presence in most other countries brings trouble. They added they support police because “we don’t want to share this city with criminals.”
Chants from the 40 to 60 counter protestors were largely drowned out by the cheerful pro-police crowd. One 14-year-old girl who “definitely wants to be a cop” when she grows up noted the contrast in the two groups: “I think it’s interesting that the other side was like flipping us off and swearing and they all seemed like they just wanted to fight. But our side was just happy and passionate and cleaning up trash.”
Another pair, who didn’t want their names shared for fear of being doxed, noted that they took time out of their Sunday to “support the police” and because they “hate Antifa.” Asked their opinion on defunding the police, the woman responded, “We would prefer to defund the city council. These people don’t deserve to have 10,000 a month when they’re reducing the number of police officers.”
Two Boy Scouts, age 17 and 15, from nearby Federal Way, held no signs but quietly worked the grounds with their Nifty Nabber litter collectors. Why were they there? To be “True to the blue, to support our police departments. And pick up trash.”
The Seattle City Council will vote tonight on whether to defund the police despite opposition from Mayor Durkan, police Chief Carmen Best, and the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild. We will see if the 5,000 peaceful but vocal citizens at Sunday’s rally made them think twice.