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  • Writer's picturejohn kepler

A Glimpse Inside a Seattle Police Precinct is Disgraceful

2021 video shows Trump flag, mock tombstone of teen killed in police shootout in SPD break room

Well, well, well. The inside of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct has been exposed for its disgraceful interior. I don’t mean that as in unclean (which it certainly could be). According to The Seattle Times, we’re talking “Trump 2020” flags and a mock tombstone of a Black man who was killed by the police.

Body camera footage from January 2021 was seized as a part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the city’s graffiti laws after the arrest of protestors who wrote political statements on the precinct’s wall with chalk, the report says. Ironically, that footage exposed a whole bunch of the officer’s own political beliefs displayed on the inside. In the video a “Trump 2020 Keep America Great” flag is seen hanging on the wall of the break room.

That is almost to be expected but what really crossed the line was the mock tombstone sitting on a shelf displaying a Black power fist. On it was the name of Damarius Butts, a 19-year-old boy who was killed by a hail of 11 bullets at the officers in April 2017 after fleeing a robbery. The report says the officers took it from a Black Lives Matter memorial for people who were killed by the police.

Ann Butts, the young man’s mother, said his family misses him every day. “I can’t express how hurtful it was to learn that SPD endorsed joking about the killing of my son by displaying a fake tombstone with his name on it,” she said in a statement through her attorney, former King County public defender La Rond Baker. “I didn’t think SPD could take more from me,” she said. “I was wrong.” Baker, now the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said the nonprofit is “extremely horrified by the behavior of the individual SPD officers responsible for this demonstration of deep disrespect” of Damarius Butts’ life.

The department said in a statement most of the things displayed in the room have since been removed. However, they “didn’t know how” the tombstone ended up on the shelf but don’t have a reason to believe it was placed there with any “pejorative intent.” If not pejorative, then what?

This is why there’s an ever-growing concern about the culture of policing. We don’t know what’s going on inside the precinct but whatever it is affects the relationship between the cops and the community.



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