Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear say Block the Bunker
Seattle City Council recently voted 7-1 with one absence to move forward on building a proposed militarized police station in the North End of the city with a pricetag that has variously been identified as anywhere from $149-160 million. However, this proposal must still go through the city’s budgeting process, and can still be stopped or significantly whittled down in terms of price, if there is enough enough grassroots pressure.
Why oppose the Bunker?
Building a massive new police station will do nothing to address the safety or security of people in Seattle.
As socialists, we know that the police exist to protect the interests of the 1 percent, and have their roots historically as an institution in the U.S. in slave catching patrols and other forms of social control necessary for a rising industrial capitalism.
The racist police terror we now see on countless videos tells us that the police as an institution are not just suffering from a few bad apples, but represent a rotten system, that operates to enforce societal racism and maintain a permanent sector of “surplus labor” that that they attempt to systematically control with racist police terror and mass incarceration.
The Seattle Police Department shares this legacy. And, it has distinguished itself with particularly egregious and unconstitutional violence, to the extent that the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the SPD in 2011. The department is now operating under a consent decree. Recently, the federal judge overseeing this decree gave a severe tongue lashing to Seattle’s police union, which was attempting to hold the city hostage for higher wages in exchange for complying with the court’s order to stop engaging in racist and unconstitutional violence!
This begs the question as to why the police should be rewarded with a very expensive new station when their representatives are attempting to torpedo even the most minimal of reforms that might lead to some kind of accountability.
Seattle is facing an actual homelessness state of emergency, and, especially in the North End, an epidemic of opioid addiction. Why is the city planning to spend over $100 million on a police station, when there are people literally sleeping and dying on the street just feet from the proposed location of the station?
Some people, especially in North Seattle, may be inclined to support a new station because they are concerned about crime in their community, especially crime associated with homelessness and drug addiction. But history has shown that a police approach to these problems cannot succeed. Homeless people need houses. Drug addicts need treatment. Neither one of these things are free. Every dollar spent on building a police station is a dollar not spent on affordable housing or drug treatment.
As the Movement for Black Lives Police Platform points out, “safety” will come when we invest in people and communities and divest from militarized policing and mass incarceration.
Gloria La Riva and Eugene Puryear are both veterans of the struggle against racism and police brutality. Eugene, working with the Stop Police Terror Project-DC, has successfully challenged several militarized policing and “Law and Order” policies in Washington D.C., and is the author of the book, “Shackled and Chained: Mass Incarceration in Capitalist America.” La Riva is running for President of the United States, Puryear is her VP running mate and together they will appear on the November ballot in Washington State.