The 14-year-old son of a friend of ours – a straight-arrow kid who attends a prestigious private school – was out jogging around Green Lake this evening when he was “detained” by SPD for, well, being out jogging. He didn’t have any ID on him (he’s a 14-year-old out jogging, fer crissakes), but at least he knew “how to behave” – yes sir, no sir, etc. His mother had to leave a school function to go get him.
Did I mention his father is black?
This is the sort of incident that doesn’t show up on statistics; and if it happened to this kid, you can bet it happens a lot. Why? Because all the controversy over how SPD treats communities of color, the DoJ report, the consent decree, new monitoring provisions, all of it, has not filtered down to the officer in the field. At all. And that’s the responsibility of SPD leadership and City Hall – starting with Mayor Mike McGinn – officials who have loudly denied any problems with SPD policing and who have fought accountability and reform, tooth and nail, for years. The egregious incidents – the ones that make the papers – may cost the city money, but they’re applauded outside the public eye by a lot of the rank and file as well as by SPD leadership. They set the tone, and this is the sort of thing that results.
Our friend’s son is OK now. But when his mother – who is a bit sheltered about these things but tonight is understandably spitting mad – asked him what he needed to do, he had a succinct answer:
Ladies and gentlemen, your Seattle Police Department.