On Monday, July 13th (2020), the organization calling itself “Northwest African American Museum (NAAM)” organized a press conference in Jimi Hendrix Park, calling upon the city of Seattle to hire at least two thousand (2000) more police officers. This would nearly double the size of the Seattle Police Department.
Jimi Hendrix Park is located over the former parking lot of the Central Area’s historic Coleman School Building, rightfully owned by the African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, to whom it was legally sold in 1998. The AAHM&CC was established as a direct alternative to the unpopular City Hall proposal to build a police precinct at 23rd Avenue and Yesler Way where the low income housing known as the Cannon House now stands instead (thanks to the valiant efforts of community organizers like Omari Tahir Garrett and Patrick Haggerty, who risked their lives to stop the installation of that precinct).
Hosted by “NAAM” Executive Director LaNesha Debardelaben, favorably glorified in soundbite by Fox News and emceed by Chairperson Vicky Beach of the African American Community Advisory Council (an official organ of Seattle’s city government), this press conference featured speakers Harriett Walden of Mothers For Police, Peola Johnson of New Hope Baptist Church, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best and District 37 Legislative Candidate Robert Redwine–who filmed the event and streamed it at this link: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3114573371923176&id=100001116304596 .
Claiming that Seattle has a shortage of police (interval 12:47 in Mr. Redwine’s video), emcee V. Beach then introduced featured speaker Peola “Auntie P” Johnson, who called Seattle’s City Council “mentally disabled” and delivered the press conference’s main demand for at least 2000 additional cops (interval 14:37 in Mr. Redwine’s video).
“If it was left up to me, I would put at least two thousand more on the payroll. We need them”, said Johnson.
The “NAAM”’s position in favor of adding 2000+ officers to SPD stands in stark contrast to the reasonable political responses to the lynching of George Floyd that have been respectively issued by two major authentic Seattle cultural institutions with whom the AAHM&CC shares a parallel epic history—Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center and El Centro De La Raza (neither or which have called for doubling the size of SPD).
On June 10th, Daybreak Star stated: “We stand united with the Black Lives Matters movement in the same way allies stood with our Native American activists who fought for and established a land base here at Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center. Initial planning for that campaign happened at the Filipino Community Hall in South Seattle. Black Panthers showed their support by facing military police in solidarity with us. Volunteers from many marginalized communities tended to our wounded, tired, and hungry activists at Resurrection City so that they could return to the protest. We seek to do the same.” ( https://www.unitedindians.org/black-lives-matter/ )
On June 2nd, El Centro De La Raza stated: “El Centro de la Raza condemns the senseless murder of George Floyd – in the strongest possible terms – as we remember Breonna Tayor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and Philando Castile; at a local level, we remember John T. Williams, Che Taylor, Charleena Lyles, and countless others whose names never made headlines but whose lives were also cut short by anti-Black racism and police violence. The waves of uprisings that have ignited across the country is a natural culmination of the anger and pain at the continuous racial terror and violence that police regularly perpetuate in our Black communities. … At the same time, it has been deeply disturbing to witness the frequently violent responses by police toward protestors. Police have violently charged peaceful protestors, driven police vehicles through crowds, shot rubber bullets, sprayed protesters with harmful gases, and punched, kicked, beaten, arrested, and detained people for doing nothing wrong. These assaults on protesters are unacceptable violence. Our communities should be able to protest injustices in our streets without suffering from police violence and militarized responses. El Centro de la Raza is committed to combatting institutional racism and police brutality in all its forms. Despite decades of effort through multi-racial coalitions to address police misconduct, which has yielded some successes, we are challenged to recognize that our communities are still plagued with police brutality, which was evident this past weekend. Twelve thousand (12,000) complaints were filed after this past weekend’s demonstrations with Seattle’s Office of Police Accountability. One complaint included an officer placing his knee on the neck area of two people who had been arrested. All this despite the Seattle Police Department (SPD) being under a Federal Consent Decree. … We will continue to work with Black Leaders and other leaders of color to call for concrete policy proposals to address systemic targeting and violence against Black communities. These policy proposals should include de-militarization, budget reductions, and enhanced transparency, particularly around misconduct and community oversight of police functions. More often than not, police budgets comprise a significant proportion of discretionary spending and grow steadily year on year. The scope, militarization, and intensity of law enforcement have rapidly increased. In contrast, police have been mistakenly tasked with addressing social problems within communities of color, such as education, mental health, homelessness, and drug abuse. These dynamics have, in turn, resulted in the criminalization and over-policing of communities of color, often with destructive and deadly consequences and minimal accountability for wrongdoing. As allies, our job is to work with the Black community to demand resources that are invested in Black communities in ways that enhance public safety and enrich our communities rather than simply expand and further militarize police ranks.” (http://www.elcentrodelaraza.org/2020/06/02/el-centro-de-la-razas-public-statement-on-george-floyds-death/)
That is very different from the “NAAM”. Although some individual officials of the “NAAM” have posted testimonials on its website about the personal anguish they’ve felt over George Floyd’s death, the “NAAM”’s organized political response–as an institution–so far is embodied by this press conference, calling for the SPD to double in size. While personal testimony is inherently valuable and political, institutional actions are what define an organization’s policy line.
The “NAAM”’s position is therefore even worse than the deafening silence to date (on the lynching of George Floyd) from the website of Chinatown’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (a silence that must surely have the late Chinatown ID legendary activist Bob Santos turning in his grave). In spite of the silence,Wing Luke Museum is AT LEAST still displaying its excellent online “Here To Stay” exhibit on the struggle for “ownership and place”, which accurately presents the historic words of Ron Lee, son of corner grocers Lloyd and May Lee: “We had the protection of the Black Panthers. Whenever we were robbed, the police couldn’t find the robbers, but the Black Panthers did… And we hid the Black Panthers in the back of the store when the police were looking for them. When the coast was clear we let them out through the alley to their headquarters.” —Ron Lee (https://www.wingluke.org/here-to-stay/)
According to Seattle’s faux-liberal academia, publishing houses and establishment media, The creation of Daybreak Star, El Centro and Wing Luke can largely be credited to a group of multi-ethnic activist celebrities they call “The Gang Of Four”. However, Seattle’s elites are often annoyed if someone dares to ask how this group of “Four”(4) celebrities only succeeded in establishing three (3) major Seattle cultural institutions. They get even more annoyed if you ask them which of the “Four” (4) major ethnic groups represented by this “Gang” is still MISSING its major Seattle cultural institution today.
The uncomfortable truth is this.The celebrity glorified as the alleged African American member of this “Gang Of Four” failed to mobilize any major community protests in response to Mayor Paul Schell’s 1998 SWAT Police raid that shut down the fledgling African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, stole it’s legally purchased Coleman School building at gunpoint, and delivered it as HUD-subsidized loot to the corrupt and racketeer-influenced Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle in order to prevent the emergence of a Black led cultural institution of any comparable capacity to that of Wing Luke, El Centro or Daybreak Star.
The Urban League was founded in 1910 by the wife of the wealthy Boston Railroad Tycoon William Henry Baldwin Jr. From its inception, it has always consisted of white industrial wealth hiring mostly Black staff to carry out the political agenda of their employers under a nominally “non-profit” umbrella. In this sense, it can be considered one of the world’s first “NGOs”. It has always aligned itself with the US State Department and been used as a tool of white supremacy since its early days when it worked with the Woodrow Wilson administration to oppose Marcus Garvey’s UNIA movement and pressure Black workers to support the First World War. It has always repressed Black visionaries who were reclaiming their heritage and organizing for authentic cultural and economic development.
The imposition—at gunpoint—of the Urban League’s physical control over the AAHM&CC’s rightful museum building is parallel to the 1966 overthrow of the elected government of Ghana’s elected President Kwame Nkrumah by CIA Station Chief Howard Bane, or, if you want an example from this very continent, the 1864 imposition of Emperor Maximillian I as ruler of Mexico—at the point of European bayonets—in retaliation against Mexico for daring to elect its first indigenous head of state. This is reason why theonly political response to a peoples’ uprising against lynchingthat the “NAAM”’s masters allow it to make is … to call for doubling the city police department.
Free The Land.
-The African American Heritage Museum & Cultural Center