January 12, 2012
CONTACT: Phillip Neel
Occupy Seattle calls for Diaz resignation
SEATTLE, Wash — On Tuesday, January 3, the Occupy Seattle General Assembly joined the NAACP and other community groups in calling for the resignation of John Diaz, Chief of the Seattle Police Department. The call is in response to the recently released Department of Justice report on its investigation of the SPD.
“In consideration of the Seattle Police Department’s systematic use of excess force on the citizens of Seattle, its violent and unnecessary repression of nonviolent protesters and its disproportionate targeting of the most disenfranchised members of society, whether they be people of color or simply people without houses, Occupy Seattle hereby calls for the resignation of John Diaz, Chief of the Seattle Police Department and the prosecution of all officers found to be repeatedly engaged in misconduct,” states the endorsed proposal, which passed with a large majority.
The first large action in the campaign will be on January 14, 4pm at 23rd and Union, in the Central District. The rally will then march on the east precinct at 12th and Pine to hold a public speak-out, in which members of the community who have been brutalized by SPD can publicly voice their grievances.
“The time is ripe,” said Liam Wright, one of the organizers behind Occupy Seattle’s Bring Diaz Down campaign. “I’ve lived in Seattle my whole life and it’s always been like this. Excessive force, the explicit targeting of communities of color, constant abuse of the homeless. But we have a moment right now where the normalcy of it, the everyday acceptance, you know, is fractured. We have the possibility for something new.”
“And this isn’t just about what the DOJ has reported on,” added Carson Ivins, one of the presenters of the original proposal. “They mention the crackdown on Occupy, like how the use of pepper spray in Seattle is questionable, but I think it goes farther than just pepper spray. When we were rallying outside the Sheraton [to protest CHASE CEO Jamie Dimon] I was tackled by a plainclothes police officer for trying to help someone who had been knocked to the ground by a blow from one of the cops. This undercover, he literally tackled me from behind, smashed my face into the asphalt and nearly broke my arm. Excessive force is being used on us at almost every event, all because we are targeting the wealthy. And, you know, it’s the wealthy who the cops really protect and serve.”
When asked what Occupy Seattle would like to see come of the campaign, Wright said, “Well, we want to bring Diaz down. I mean, he needs to resign. After John T. Williams, after the repression of nonviolent protests, after this report, he just needs to leave. And all these officers repeatedly engaged in excessive force, in any kind of misconduct, they all need to be prosecuted. Not scolded. Prosecuted. But that’s just the beginning.”
“Afterwards we don’t just want a new face on this same practice,” added Ivins. “We want real systemic change. We are Occupy Seattle so we want a fundamental shift. I personally would like to see some sort of security commons, rather than a police department. Something that gives us a democratic infrastructure for oversight, a community-based network for public safety, instead of what we have right now. Because the department right now is simply a group of armed men who live in communities other than the ones they police. Armed men who are beholden to no one, especially the public.”
“The Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that SPD engages in a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994,” the Department of Justice report states. It goes on to say that, although systematic racial discrimination could not be proven due to lack of good record-keeping on behalf of SPD, “the investigation raised serious concerns that some of SPD’s policies and practices, particularly those related to pedestrian encounters, could result in unlawful discriminatory policing.”
Further interviews and details can be obtained by contacting the Bring Diaz Down Committee at Bringdiazdown@gmail.com. For more information, visit www.occupyseattle.org