City officials address racism, gun violence, and officer misconduct at press conference | KUOW News and Information

City officials address racism, gun violence, and officer misconduct at press conference

Jul 8, 2016

Seattle’s mayor and police chief held a news conference this afternoon to appeal for calm and for dialogue following the shootings of police officers in Dallas and the shootings of African-American men by police. KUOW’s Carolyn Adolph sends this report.

TRANSCRIPT

Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray called it a pivotal and dangerous moment.

When police, people of color and the wider community are feeling vulnerable and angry over the violence of the last few days.

Murray: “Will we be further divided and sink into more violence? Or will we choose to say that violence is not the answer?”

Murray said police had the burden of dealing with the social consequences of all the systemic racism in America.

Community leaders, including the Reverend Lawrence Willis of the True Vine Missionary Baptist Church, spoke of their pain.

Willis: “My heart is heaving, my soul is hurting and the community is hurting...”

He said people in his community feel unsafe

Willis: “…and don’t know what to do. They’re afraid to drive in their cars. I’m just speaking my heart.”

And a Facebook post from the Seattle Police Union did not help. The post said, “The hatred of law enforcement by a minority movement is disgusting.”

It’s now deleted, but its existence meant Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole had to answer a question about it.

O’Toole: “I’m not going to defend it. I’m not going to comment on it. I don’t want to feed into division between the police and the community.”

O’Toole said communities from across the city had sent flowers to the police department when they heard about the deaths of officers in Dallas.

In Seattle, I’m Carolyn Adolph, KUOW News.