Seattle, WA – City leaders were crafting plan to cave to rioters’ demands they turn the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building over to Black Lives Matter during the George Floyd riots at the same time officers were being ordered to abandon the building.
The Seattle Times obtained documents that showed what then-Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and the city’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS) Director Calvin Goings were up to while officers were battling back rioters in the area that would ultimately become the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP).
Records revealed Goings emailed three memos and a draft resolution that transferred the East Precinct to a Black Lives Matter group to Durkan on June 8, 2020.
Timestamps revealed that the mayor and the FAS director were contemplating handing over the multimillion dollar property on Capitol Hill at about the same time officers were risking their lives to abandon the police precinct that was surrounded by violent rioters, the Seattle Times reported.
Both Durkan and former Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best denied having given the order to evacuate and abandon the East Precinct, and the mayor attempted to distance herself from rumors that she had been ready to hand over the building to protesters.
Durkan’s term as mayor ended last month.
After the memos came to light in early January, her spokeswoman, Chelsea Kellogg, told the Seattle Times that the now-former mayor had dismissed idea of giving Black Lives Matter the police building after “the very preliminary work by FAS and the realities of policing confirmed it was neither feasible nor in the best interest of public safety,” the Seattle Times reported.
But the draft resolution appeared to show the plan had moved farther than just the idea stage with a stated plan to transfer the property to Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County (BLMSKC) on July 1, 2020.
But the transfer of the property for Black Lives Matter to turn into a community hub never happened.
After police and EMS were unable to respond to numerous shootings and other crimes inside the CHOP, Seattle police retook the East Precinct on July 1, 2020, the same date Goings had proposed turning over the building in answer to activists’ demands, the Seattle Times reported.
Despite Durkan’s claims in the national media that the cop-free autonomous zone created around Seattle’s Capitol Hill emitted a “Summer of Love” vibe, there are numerous lawsuits against the city and the former mayor ongoing because of havoc it wreaked on residents and business owners.
Former Seattle Deputy Mayor Casey Sixkiller said in a recent deposition that the police building wasn’t ultimately transferred because BLMSKC didn’t want it, the Seattle Times reported.
Sixkiller claimed it was a coincidence that Goings sent the draft resolution to the mayor at the same time the precinct was being abandoned.
But documents obtained by the Seattle Times showed mayoral staffers circulated a June 15, 2020 letter from BLMSKC that demanded the city transfer the East Precinct to them and offering to contribute millions of dollars to repurpose the building.
“We demand an active, responsive resource and tool that works for us, not one simply handed off for political expediency,” BLMSKC wrote in the letter. “One of our goals in reclaiming the East Precinct for this use is to quiet the physical space and surroundings. Protesters need a reprieve. They need to know that demands have been met …”
BLMSKC told the Seattle Times it would not make a statement on the matter at this time.
Seattle police said the department wasn’t included in the discussions about giving the East Precinct up to Black Lives Matter.
“We were not aware of any plans on the city’s part to permanently leave the precinct, or any plans to share the space with the community,” Seattle Police Spokesman Sergeant Randy Huserik told the Seattle Times in an email.
It wasn’t until Sixkiller was deposed and former Chief Best wrote about it in her book after she left the police department that the rumors about the planned forfeiture of the East Precinct gained a foundation.
Durkan’s spokeswoman has continued to downplay the former mayor’s role in the discussion and said that City Hall never seriously considered caving to protesters’ demands, the Seattle Times reported.
But additional FAS memos from June 17, 2020 proved the mayor explored the possibility of permanently relocating East Precinct police operations for more than a week.
FAS pushed back against assertions the mayor hadn’t initiated the process, the Seattle Times reported.
“The Durkan administration directed FAS — in its capacity as the city’s real estate and facility management agency — to outline the process to transfer the East Precinct to BLMSKC,” FAS spokesperson Melissa Mixon said in January.
The memos on June 8, 2020 reviewed options for moving the physical contents of the precinct, explored alternative sites for the East Precinct, and considered transferring the precinct building to BLMSKC, the Seattle Times reported.
“Proposed language that the Mayor could use for a resolution to transfer the property” was included with the third memo.
Whereas “This precinct houses Seattle Police officers who patrol Seattle’s Central District neighborhood and has been seen as a symbol of police oppression in one of Seattle’s historically Black neighborhoods,” the resolution read.
The proposed language also indicated the building in question was “valued in excess of $5,000,000,” according to the Seattle Times.
Later memos discussed the lack of alternative appropriate spaces for relocating the precinct and the possibility of the police sharing space with the community in the building, but the entire plan was ultimate scrapped after skyrocketing crime in the cop-free zone prompted outrage and lawsuits.