Black community leaders asking for Chief Best to stay on the job
( KOMO )
SEATTLE — A group of prominent black community leaders is asking Seattle Chief Police to stay on the job and demonstrators to end the violence and vandalism.
Chief Carmen Best has already responded to the first request. It’s wait and see if demonstrators respond to the second.
Police reform activist and “Not This Time” co-founder Andre Taylor joined several faith leaders and community members to let Best know that she is the “best person” that can lead the Seattle Police Department into a new era of policing.
“Being a black woman, she has the perspective of some of the groups that have the most troubled relationships with law enforcement near” said Reverend Leslie Braxton of the New Beginnings Christian Fellowship in Kent. “She is a unique package of things that make her the right person at the right time.”
Best announced her sudden retirement after 28 years on the force, the last two as police chief the day the City Council cut the remaining 2020 budget of SPD by $23 million or 14 percent, saying “I’m done."
Taylor’s sister and Not This Time Assistant Director Devitta Brisco blamed the City Council for pushing her out.
“I feel because she was disrespected, she stepped down that was the only option that she had,” said Brisco. “She inherited years and years of a system that was already racist, and you are asking her to undo racism in two years”.
“I would hope that members of the city council have had some long thoughtful troubling nights where maybe they have rethought their actions and the motivations behind them because I believe her return would be a moment of redemption for our city," said Braxton. “If it remains as it is, I think we will have a difficult path moving forward.”
After the group made their request, Best put out a written response saying she was “humbled and gratified” by the support of her.
“The request today that I rescind my retirement was unexpected but appreciated. However, I am confident my decision to retire is the right one.”
She asked that “everyone extend that support to Chief Diaz and the entire SPD moving forward.”
Taylor also criticized the recent demonstrations marching in the name of Black Lives Matter as hijacking the group's message.
“I don’t support Black Lives Matter, at least locally what local groups are doing,” Taylor said.
“There is an idea with some of these organizations they are going to disrupt and overthrow the government, that they are going to end policing,” Taylor said. “We'll let me tell you, that will never happen.”
Taylor saw resistance to a similar message he brought to Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in June and knows he’s not liked by some of the marchers, but he called the marchers who don’t want to be a part of “protests of agitation” to remove instigators who vandalize and prompt violence confrontations with police.
“In my opinion, there is a disservice being done,” said Taylor. “If the protest of agitation allows of a level of violence - at least they don't speak out against it - then people that want violence can mingle right in.”
He accused recent marches of doing what the marchers are accusing the police of doing – not de-escalating and prompting violence.
With marches that end in confrontations with police, a majority of city council members pledging to defund police by 50% and female black police chief calling it quits, Braxton speculated recruiting a new police chief could be troublesome.
“Our city right now in the mind of the public is an occupational hazard for anyone who would aspire to lead our Seattle police department forward,” Braxton said. “We can yet still be a model for the nation and not a dark spot.”