Seattle, WA – The city of Seattle has begun giving in to a list of demands from Africatown and other black activist groups protesting in the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) by turning over former Seattle Fire Station 6 to the community.
“We at the City of Seattle understand the urgency behind making bold investments in the Black community and increasing community ownership of land in the Central District,” the city posted on its Front Page website.
“The City believes in the vision behind the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation and we remain committed to making the transfer of Fire Station 6 to the community a reality,” that statement continued.
Protesters have submitted a list of demands to the city that they believe will help to promote economic equity for the city’s black residents living in the Central District.
“We have received Africatown’s list of community requests along with a longer list of asks from other black-led organizations,” the city wrote. “Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan has already met with the King County Equity Now coalition and, on behalf of Mayor Durkan, she will be working with Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development to work on next steps with the community.”
Africatown is a Seattle-based organization that has demanded “community ownership of land in the Central District that can support the cultural and economic thriving of people who are part of the African diaspora in the Greater Seattle region,” the Washington Examiner reported.
Fire Station 6 was built in 1932 at the intersection of East Yesler Way and 23rd Avenue South, but it was later decommissioned and has sat empty for a number of years, according to the Seattle Patch.
Protesters have repeatedly demanded that the city turn over the fire station to black community ownership during demonstrations in the CHAZ.
The decision to turn the fire station over to the black community comes as the city tries to figure out how to take back the six blocks around the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct that the mayor forced Police Chief Carmen Best to cede to rioters.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan called the occupation of her city a “patriotic” move by violent protesters angry about the death of 46-year-old George Floyd in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25.
The city has been negotiating with a group called the King County Equity Now Coalition that has demanded that underutilized public land in the city be put in the trust of black community members, the Seattle Patch reported.
The group has also demanded that a vacant transit lot on Martin Luther King Jr Way S become a Youth Achievement Center and the Seattle Housing Authority Operations Site be turned into an affordable housing complex.
The coalition has also demanded the city’s $180 million police budget be redistributed to social services, with $50 million of it being invested directly into Seattle’s black communities, according to the Seattle Patch.
They have also called for an end to “predatory development” and the establishment of $500 million “anti-gentrification fund.”
K. Wyking Garrett, who represents the Africatown Community Land Trust and King County Equity Now Coalition, called the transfer of Fire Station 6 a good first step, KING reported.
”You know, it appears to be a step in the right direction and we’re glad that the Mayor recognizes that bold and unprecedented investments are needed to bring equity shared prosperity to our community,” Garrett said.
But he also stressed that the community has not yet received the keys or the deed to the property, KING reported.
”It’s going to take very bold investments to change the trajectory of Black people and others being pushed out of Seattle. I think this time is one where many people can come together to help co-design, invest in and build a new normal rooted in equity going forward,” Garrett said.
The city has already caved to a demand from black organizations to remove school resource officers for a year from the four inner city schools they patrolled, the Seattle Patch reported.