Protesters wanting Seattle police defunded by 50 percent disappointed in proposed cuts
(Photo: KOMO News)

Seattle City Council voted 7-1 Monday in favor of defunding the police department by $3.5 million, with cuts of roughly 100 officers.

But it's a far cry from the 50 percent protesters wanted to see slashed from the budget.

“A little disheartened but unfortunately not surprised," said David Lewis.

That’s how Lewis summed up his thoughts Monday afternoon. At one point, seven councilmembers had voiced their support to cut the budget in half.

“We’re seeing this pullback, this retraction of all the forward motion we’ve made so we’re all nervous to see what happens next,” said Lewis.

Police Chief Carmen Best said cutting 100 officers would mean more recent hires, some of which are BIPOC, would be the first to go. Lewis tells KOMO News that doesn’t have to be the case.

“We’ve identified over 73 officers with multiple charges against them that they’re not even talking about terminating.”

RELATED: Seattle businesses owners fed up with crime, worry about cuts to police department


The push to defund began in Capitol Hill when protesters set up the “CHOP,” or Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in early June.

For nearly one month, a six-block portion of the neighborhood was free of police as those protesters demanded three things: defund SPD by 50%, invest the money in BIPOC communities and drop all charges against protesters that had been arrested.

After two deadly shootings and frustration from businesses and neighbors, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an order that it be removed. Police later cleared out the zone making dozens of arrests.

“I think the city has definitely heard our demands,” said Mark Anthony, a former “CHOP” protester. "II think they’re trying to find the correct compromise between what the protesters want and what they think will actually be feasible for the community and the city.”

Anthony said the problems will take time solve, not only with police reform but criminal justice reform.

“I can understand how we would need to have more discussion on that subject because I feel like we should have targets we’re trying to accomplish when we’re defunding and simply cutting it in half isn’t necessarily the best answer,” said Anthony.

He said more also needs to be done when it comes to officer training. And while he may think this council vote is a start, he knows not everyone protesting is happy with the outcome.

Christopher Hunt was at “CHOP.” His fight has always been about reform rather than defunding.

“They’re focused on the wrong thing,” said Hunt in an interview with KOMO News. “That’s the wrong thing. That’s not why we’re here. We’re here to stop police violence. We don’t need (Chief Best) to reimagine policing. We need the chief to do her job and make her officers do their jobs correctly.”

Hunt argues reform can be done with little to no cost and wants to see increased accountability for officers.

“They need to get the bad police out of (East Precinct)," Hunt said. "They need to get the bad police out of every precinct in this country."

Protesters tell KOMO News they will continue to keep pressure on the City Council ahead of budget talks for 2021. Lewis said he’ll keep pushing for an end to qualified immunity for officers, too.

“Defunding the SPD takes away their power but making them actually accountable stops them from abusing us in the first place,” said Lewis.

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