The Emerald City isn’t looking much like a precious gem anymore after months of rioting and chaos. From the seizure of several city blocks by agitators to defunding the police, the city council – already known for being a liberal mess – has another burden to bear. While trying to appease the Black Lives Matter mission to defund and reform law enforcement, it ended up losing Seattle’s first black female police chief, which did nothing to soothe BLM. In fact, the Seattle-King County branch of the organization was so incensed by Chief Carmen Best’s resignation, it delivered a scathing email to the city council:
“It does nothing to further our fight for authentic police accountability and the safety of Black lives, that the first Black woman to hold the position of Chief of Police of the Seattle Police Department has been forced out of her job by the Seattle City Council. Racism is racism.
We demand the Seattle City Council stop prioritizing performance action that solely suggests the appearance of change. We demand transparency and accountability for the series of actions and inactions that led to Chief Best’s resignation. And we demand a successor that serves Black Lives.”
On Monday, Aug. 10, despite active protests against defunding the police department, the city council decided to do just that. The process begins this year with removing approximately 100 officers and instituting pay cuts, including about $1,000 a month from Best. Yes, the council’s action contributed to Best’s decision to leave the police force, but the 55-year-old has been in an uphill battle with the council and Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) for months now, and she hasn’t been shy about voicing her opposition.
Best said her resignation isn’t just about the money; she believed the defunding action was directed at her personally:
“Well, obviously no one wants their salary cut, and so it was disappointing to hear. If they were going to do that and do it to every single department head, there might be an argument. But this is absolutely directed to me, just at Carmen Best, because Carmen Best has said what they’re doing is reckless and it’s not well thought out.”
As Liberty Nation reported, the chief and mayor have had their troubles. Best was quite upset when Durkan told her to have her force stand down and let the citizens take control of the police precinct during the rioting that led to the formation of CHOP, the Capitol Hill Organized Protest area of six Seattle blocks and a park. Her job was made even more difficult when she was ordered not to use tear gas and other “weapons” in an attempt to control the angry mob. And then protesters went to Best’s home, where they were chased away by neighbors with guns. She even implored the city council to discourage such behavior, which they ignored.
In a letter to the council, Best asked the members to “stand up for what is right. These direct actions against elected officials, and especially civil servants like myself, are out of line with and go against every democratic principle that guides our nation.” She warned that “mob rule” would become the new norm and “elected officials like you must forcefully call for the end of these tactics.”
BLM was not alone in being upset by the chief’s resignation. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce’s spokesperson Alicia Teel said in a statement: “The Seattle City Council chose divisive rhetoric over responsible governance and it cost our city a respected leader.” Teel admonished the council for not working with Best, “the first Black woman to lead the Seattle Police Department.” Instead, Teel suggested that “council members doubled down on misleading promises and petty, performative actions.”
Durkan, who appointed Best in 2018, also had some criticism for the council. “They wanted to micromanage and play mini police chief,” she said. “Cut here. Cut there.”
And during a press conference on Aug. 11, President Donald Trump was asked what he thought about Best’s resignation to take effect next month. The president’s answer pretty much sums it up: “I think Seattle has made a tragic mistake.”
Read more from Kelli Ballard.