Seattle-Area Labor Group Expels Police Union, Citing Unaddressed Racism

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Written by Dana Sanchez
A line of police officers surrounding City Hall on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Seattle, look towards demonstrators following protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American who died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Over the past 50 years, police unions have become one of the most powerful lobbyists in local government and the loudest voices against criminal justice reform — especially when it comes to police use of force and discipline.

Unlike most unions, police unions are “profoundly conservative institutions that uphold a particular white ethnic, law-and-order-focused variant of right-wing politics,” Dylan Matthews wrote for Vox. “The presence of a segment of a union movement that’s unapologetically right-wing and hostile to Black communities has tested the limits of solidarity from more left-wing unionists.”

Against this backdrop, Seattle’s largest labor group expelled the city’s police union on June 17, citing unaddressed racism in the police force’s ranks.

Seattle has seen weeks of protests since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin. Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best promised city residents that the police wouldn’t use tear gas against protesters, but officers did so anyway, The Hill reported. The police are prohibited from using tear gas, pepper spray and other devices for crowd control.

The King County Labor Council expelled the Seattle Police Officers Guild following the teargas incident.

Few people have tried to defend Minneapolis officer Chauvin — who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, suffocating him as Floyd repeated “I can’t breathe” and begged for his life — or three other arresting officers who stood by and did nothing to help.

One exception is Bob Kroll, the president of the Minneapolis Police Department’s police union. In a letter to union members, Kroll referred to people protesting against police brutality as a “terrorist movement.” He defended the officers who killed Floyd and were fired, saying they were “terminated without due process.”

At a Fox News town hall meeting Thursday in Wisconsin, President Donald Trump echoed Kroll, referring to Wisconsin demonstrators as terrorists.

“These people are vandals, but they’re agitators, but they’re really — they’re terrorists, in a sense,” Trump said.

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill) likened Chicago’s largest police union, the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, to the Ku Klux Klan, saying the two organizations “are like kissing, hugging, and law-breaking cousins.”

“The No. 1 cause that prevents police accountability, that promotes police corruption, that protects police lawlessness, is a culprit called the Fraternal Order of Police,” Rush said in an interview with Politico. “They’re the organized guardians of continuous police lawlessness, of police murder and police brutality. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police is the most rabid, racist body of criminal lawlessness by police in the land. It stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the Ku Klux Klan then and the Ku Klux Klan now.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

In Seattle, King County Labor Council delegates voted 45,435 to 36,760 to expel the Seattle police union.

“At this point, I just can’t justify to our members, ones who are staffing the medical tents and getting gassed by SPD (Seattle Police Department), having SPOG (Seattle Police Officers Guild) at the table, using our unity as a shield to justify contracts that go against our principles and mission,” said Jane Hopkins, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told the New York Times that Kroll and his union create a “nearly impenetrable barrier” to reform.

Police unions, which represent police officers, stand in the way of holding police accountable, Vox reported. Without addressing their power, reforms may never happen.

Read more: 10 Things to know about how Democrat states and cities kiss up to powerful police unions at the expense of Black America