A History of Seattle Police: Part 2, East Precinct – Controversy from the Start

Content Warning: This post links to an historical newspaper article that uses the term “homosexuals,” which is an outdated term used to characterize gay people as having a psychological disorder.

In response to local interest on the history of policing in Seattle and community-driven police reform movements, Shelf Talk presents a three-part series that dives into historical resources on these topics. Part 1 examines police accountability starting with two events in 1965, Part 2 looks at controversy surrounding the creation and siting of the East Precinct, and Part 3 concludes with events in the 1980s and 1990s.

From proposal to opening, the creation of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct took nine years and cost approximately $3.6 million. From the outset, community organizations, leaders, and citizens from the Black community, and later the gay community, resisted various proposals for siting the precinct within the Central District neighborhood. Continue reading “A History of Seattle Police: Part 2, East Precinct – Controversy from the Start”

A History of Seattle Police: Part 1, Accountability

Recent events have again highlighted long standing discussions on public safety, the appropriate use of force, the goals and mission of police forces, and accountability to the public, among related topics. In Seattle, how have these conversations changed over time, and what lessons might we find in the past to provide direction and shape public policy in the future?

In response to local interest on the history of policing in Seattle and community-driven police reform movements, Shelf Talk presents a three-part series that dives into historical resources on these topics. In this series we will look more closely at Seattle’s history to see how it impacts us today. First, we will look at how two events in 1965 anticipate in many ways the current conversation on police review boards and greater accountability to the public. (In our next post, we will look at the controversy surrounding the creation and siting of the East Precinct, and our final post will review events in the 1980s and 1990s.)

Content Warning: This post and the linked historical articles contain mentions of racial trauma, violence against Black bodies, and racial slurs that can be disturbing.

​1965: Accountability by Whom, to Whom?

Attempts to call for an independent police review board in Seattle began as early as 1955​, particularly in response to that year’s Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Police Practices which found that the “…Seattle Police Department — like the white community — held essentially racist attitudes about Black citizens, frequently stereotyping them as ‘criminal types.'” Despite the report, requests for an independent police board were denied, and instead only sensitivity training for police was recommended.

Seattle Daily Times January 23, 1965

Formal attempts to create a police review board can be traced back to a request by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in November, 1964 for a hearing on the creation of a police review board. Recently, the Seattle Municipal Archives has made audio, transcripts, minutes, and more from the meetings available digitally through their Seattle Voices online exhibition portal. Key figures, including the Reverend Samuel McKinney, testified. Continue reading “A History of Seattle Police: Part 1, Accountability”

Jazz in Seattle?! Jazz in Seattle!

While jazz has well-established reputations in New Orleans, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, you might be surprised to find that Seattle has long been a part of this rich music tradition. In an effort to capture and preserve this history, the Special Collections department of the Seattle Public Library created the Seattle Jazz Archive, which contains oral history interviews with many influential members of the community.

portrait of Overton Berry

Seattle Times ad for Overton Berry Trio, December 15, 1972From musicians who played in the 1940s to those still playing today, the Jazz Archive covers a deep range of his compelling history. Hear Overton Berry describe his experience of the racial integration of the AMF Local 76 and AMF Local 493 in 1958 or about his seminal extended stay at the Doubletree Inn, which produced the album, The Overton Berry Trio At Seattle’s Doubletree Inn, a classic in its own right but also a sought after “crate-digger” record for hip-hop and rap producers. Evan Flory-Barnes shares developing musically through Garfield High School’s nationally recognized music program to his experience as a constantly “gigging” artist, often playing with his band Industrial Revelation, winners of The Stranger’s Genius Award. Continue reading “Jazz in Seattle?! Jazz in Seattle!”