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Published: 
Friday, April 1, 2011
Last December, the ACLU of Washington and 34 community organizations sent a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation of the Seattle Police Department after a string of troubling incidents involving unnecessary or excessive use of force by officers.  On March 31 we received an answer: DOJ is coming to Seattle.  The move came after a preliminary inquiry in Seattle determined that a full-scale investigation is warranted.
Published: 
Monday, March 7, 2011
The string of highly publicized incidents involving Seattle Police officers has resulted in community anger and mistrust as well as frustration on the part of the many excellent police officers who serve our city every day.  But the attention also gives City leaders a unique opportunity to make significant improvements in the policies and practices of the Department to ensure that all officers are able to maintain the public peace. 
Published: 
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Last week, we learned that the King County Prosecutor decided not to criminally chargeformer Seattle police officer Ian Birk with the murder of John T. Williams. Last month, the Spokane County Prosecutor declined to bring criminal charges against Deputy Brian Hirzel for the murder of Pastor Wayne Creach. Over the past year, we have seen an increase in police-involved deaths in places such as Tacoma, Federal Way, and Gold Bar.  All officers would benefit from improved training to learn how to reduce these deadly interactions.
Published: 
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I can understand why many people in Seattle are angry that Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk will not be charged with murder. If you or I intentionally shot and killed someone who was not an immediate threat to us, we would be charged with murder or at the very least manslaughter. But the law treats police officers differently. In 1986, Washington’s legislature passed a law that allows police officers to escape criminal charges for killing a person so long as the officer had a good faith belief that his actions were justified and he acted “without malice.” This law protects the officer even if his “good faith belief” was wrong. So, it is not surprising that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg believed that he would not be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Birk murdered John T. Williams.
Published: 
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
On January 10, an inquest regarding the August 30, 2010, fatal shooting of First Nations carver John T. Williams by Seattle Police Officer Ian Birk will be held at the King County Courthouse. Reports indicate the police department’s Firearms Review Board preliminarily ruled the shooting was unjustified. Does this mean the inquest verdict will be the same?
Published: 
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Many people were shocked to hear a Seattle Police officer threatening to “kick the fucking Mexican piss” out of a Latino man in South Lake Union last April.  Why did he choose to use those words when the man was already face-down on the ground in the middle of a circle of police officers and physically under their control?  The officer’s action and words were defended by the president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, who said that gang officers deal with plenty of rough characters and often need to use coarse language.  But did the officer need to degrade and humiliate the man? Did the officer need to let him know that he is not worthy of respect? 
Published: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
LGBT teenagers are more likely than their peers to be punished by schools, police and the courts, according to a recent Washington Post article which cites the first nationwide study of its kind to highlight these important issues. The study found that LGBT youth are 40% more likely to receive educational and criminal justice-related punishments, such as expulsions, police stops, arrests and incarceration.  These studies confirm what the ACLU has known for a long time: that LGBT students are often discriminated against from a young age, which denies them equal access to education and robs them of future opportunities.  
News Release, Published: 
Friday, December 3, 2010
The ACLU of Washington and 34 other civil rights and community-based organizations are requesting that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice investigate whether the Seattle Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of civil rights. The action comes in response to a series of incidents in which Seattle police officers inflicted unnecessary and excessive physical violence on residents.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The recently released footage of an incident during which a Seattle police officer is seen repeatedly kicking an African-American youth is yet another disturbing example in a string of recent incidents in which the Seattle Police Department has engaged in unnecessarily violent confrontations with citizens, all of whom have been people of color.  These repeated incidents over the last 18 months, which have continued unchecked and without forceful intervention by the Seattle Police Department, the mayor, or Seattle’s other elected officials, leads the ACLU to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether there is a pattern and practice of civil rights violations by the Seattle Police Department in violation of the constitution and federal law.  The ACLU is preparing a formal request to the Department of Justice for such an investigation, according to Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director.
Published: 
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Last Monday, just before 9 o'clock at night, a half dozen Seattle police officers in black tactical gear, with guns drawn, broke down the front door of an apartment with a battering ram and put the man they found inside in his bathrobe face down on his kitchen floor at gunpoint. The officers' search revealed two marijuana plants, each roughly 12 inches tall, and a document establishing that the man on the kitchen floor had been authorized by his physician to engage in the medical use of marijuana as provided under Washington state law. Read more

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