Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Gonzalez, Harrell Discuss Public Safety, Law Enforcement And Campaign Issues During Thursday Debate

Bruce Harrell has repeatedly criticized M. Loren Gonzalez for previous support for police refusals to fundraising, and Gonzalez pledged to abandon “failed policies of the past” when mayoral candidates fell out in televised debate Thursday night, less than a week before Tuesday’s election.

During the racial injustice protests in 2020, Harrell and a media panelist raised Gonzalez’s pledge to try to shift 50% of the Seattle Police Department’s budget to other services and strategies. Harrell said he will push for more police and unarmed officers with mediation skills, blaming Gonzalez for the recent rise in homicide.

“Make no mistake: I am not protecting the police,” the former city council president said, arguing that business owners dealing with theft and other issues are similar to what they hear from him because “they understand that we have not enough eyes. on the ground.”

Gonzalez said Thursday that she will “continue to fully support the hiring plans” proposed by the Police Department. But the current council president backed her argument that the city should completely rethink its approach to public safety, rather than relying on phased reforms to address cultural issues within the department, which has been shown to employ biased methods and tear gas crowds in Last year. …

“I still think it is important … at this historic moment to continue to assess how we can invest in community-based security and non-law enforcement systems” and ensure that “our children return home at night and are not subject to violence on the side of the police, Gonzalez said, noting that many of the calls to the police now involve non-violent, non-urgent incidents.

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Rivals also became entangled in TV ads sponsored by Gonzalez’s campaign, which were then dropped after a number of Harrell supporters and prominent black political and civic leaders criticized the ads as perpetuating racist stereotypes about dangerous black men.

The commercial accused Harrell of “sided with the bullies” and reminded voters that Harrell did not join Gonzalez at some point in 2017 and called on then-Mayor Ed Murray to step down amid Murray’s allegations of violence against several adolescents decades earlier. The ad featured a white rape survivor unrelated to Murray’s accusations; Harrell is a black Asian American.

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Impressed by the press conference on his actions in 2017, Harrell raised concerns at the time about due process, but also said, “Let me be very clear. I support survivors and victims. ” He then turned to Gonzalez, calling the ad possibly “Hail Mary” for a failed campaign and a “very racist ad.” He added: “I will not be a deaf mayor.”

Gonzalez admitted that “as a woman of color, I… I apologized and will continue to apologize to members of our colored communities for missed the mark,” featuring a white woman in the ad, although she declined to characterize the ad as racist. But “the fact remains,” she argued, “that Harrell defended Murray and“ still hasn’t made a serious apology to the thousands of survivors of sexual assault ”in town.

These exchanges came after candidates attempted to reintroduce themselves to a wider audience for the last time ahead of Tuesday’s voting deadline.

Gonzalez, who based much of her campaign on a willingness to tax big business and the rich, described herself in her opening remarks as a mother who returned early from parental leave last year to help Seattle cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and harass public. safety in the broadest sense.

Harrell, who based much of his proposal on a promise to remove homeless camps from city parks and streets, in his opening remarks highlighted the time he spent on the campaign trail, talking to voters who want to “feel safe, just enjoy.” … quality of life ”with faster response to police calls.

Gonzalez has served on the board since 2015. Harrell worked from 2008 to 2019.

Asked about gun violence killing young people of color in the South End, Harrell said he would create a special position in his office and lobby the state to regulate firearms at the city level. He also said he would install acoustic gunfire detection systems because some of the shots are currently not being recorded or tracked.

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Gonzalez called these systems unnecessary and inappropriate surveillance and said, “When I talk to young black men” in the South End about preventing gun violence, “they say they need mental health care to cope with intergenerational trauma, work and housing “.

Much of the rest of the debate has focused on how the candidates will tackle street-level issues, such as the relatively small number of people downtown and elsewhere who travel between streets and prisons, constantly committing crimes. Each of the contenders noted mental illness and substance use as contributing factors and mentioned the need for treatment.

Harrell also said at one point that his administration would put people in touch with mentors and enroll them in a “human performance enhancing curriculum,” which he says is used around the world and “helped me personally.”

Gonzalez responded, “I think I hear suggestions to reach out to people with some of the most serious mental and behavioral health problems through mentoring and motivation.” She said her administration will address “root causes,” including housing insecurity.

Gonzalez was asked if shoplifting should be prosecuted, and she cautiously replied that she expects prosecutors to use their discretion to distinguish between poverty crimes and organized theft. Harrell replied that regarding such rings, unlike people who steal for their basic needs, “You must obey the laws … You must not stutter.”

The debate took place at KCTS 9 Studios with no live audience. The previous debate about the Seattle economy was televised on October 15. Both debates were hosted by the Washington State Debate Coalition and the Seattle City Club.

Thursday’s debate was moderated by KIRO’s Essex Porter and included questions from the media panel: Crosscut’s David Croman, FOX-13’s Hana Kim, and KIRO Radio’s Hannah Scott.

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