It sounds like something out of a John Lennon song. “Imagine there’s no police, it’s easy if you try.” Or, “Imagine there’s no jail, it isn’t hard to do.” Or, “Imagine no youth in detention…” You get the idea.

Folks in Seattle are moving beyond imagining, they’re working toward a world where we won’t just dream, but we’ll see “all the people living life in peace.”

A majority of city council members have said they want to cut the police department budget by 50%. Seattle is the county seat for King County, Washington, which plans to close the downtown jail – with no plans to build a new one. King County also plans to end all youth detention by 2025 and shut down the youth detention facility – a brand new facility which just opened in February 2020.

Let’s start with the police budget cuts. Mayor Jenny Durkan recently announced that $76 million will be cut from the city’s police budget of about $400 million. Seattle’s local NBC affiliate reported that part of that money would come from “transferring $56 million out of the department’s budget and moving some responsibilities to other departments.” Twenty million dollars in reductions would come from “not expanding the police force in 2021 and reducing overtime.”

But, as NPR reported, “during a budget meeting on July 15, multiple Seattle city council members indicated they would support a 50% cut to the department’s remaining 2020 budget.” An organization called King County Equity Now suggested a four-point plan for the $200 million or so that would be slashed. Their proposal involves “replacing current 911 operations with a civilian-controlled system, scaling up community-led solutions, funding a community-created roadmap to life without policing, and investing in housing for all.”

Police Chief Carmen Best said cutting the budget in half would lead to 700 officers being laid off. She called such a plan “reckless behavior” and said, “I don’t think we want to put 750,000 residents in the city at risk for a theory that is untested.”

In June, protestors took over six blocks in downtown Seattle, first called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ). A week later it was renamed CHOP, which stood for either “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” or “Capitol Hill Organized Protest.”

Early on, Mayor Durkan described the occupation of the downtown area to CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “We’ve got four blocks in Seattle that you just saw pictures of that is more like a block party atmosphere. It’s not an armed takeover. It’s not a military junta.”

Cuomo asked, “How long do you think Seattle in those few blocks looks like this?” She replied, “I don’t know. We could have the Summer of Love.”

This was before hundreds of protestors marched on the mayor’s multi-million-dollar home, on June 28. And before she used the police to clear CHAZ/CHOP. Now, she’s changed her tune a little and seems convinced that some police officers are necessary. With a majority of the city council supporting cutting the police budget in half, she accused them of doing so with “no analysis” and “without a plan,” promising to veto more drastic cuts.

In addition to cutting police budgets, officials want to close the King County Correctional Facility, a jail in downtown Seattle. The facility currently holds 1,300 inmates. Christopher Rufo, of the Discovery Institute, spoke with Tucker Carlson on Fox News about the proposal.

Rufo obtained an email from the Director’s Office of the county’s Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. It says, “[King County] Executive Dow Constantine plans to announce major steps to reorient King County’s approach to the criminal justice system. …The Executive’s proposal calls for a phased closing of the Seattle jail.”

The email continues, “To decrease our reliance on secure detention, the Executive intends to support programs for prevention, diversion, rehabilitation and harm reduction.”

Rufo told Carlson, “For everything but the most serious offenses — murder, rape, armed robbery — people are going to be booked and immediately released back on the streets.” He explained that the facility “currently incarcerates 60% of Seattle criminals sentenced to serve time in a penitentiary” and that eliminating the facility and defunding police would lead to a “huge increase in crime.”

The third proposal for the city would be to close the Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC). According to Correctional News, the five-month-old, $242 million facility has “10 courtrooms, a 156-bed juvenile jail, resource center, free clothing shop, day care and more.” That “more” includes a “medical clinic, a gymnasium, a fully equipped library, a spiritual center and cafeteria.”

Correctional News says each “single-occupancy cell has a floor-to-ceiling painted blackboard with chalk,” adding: “Common areas include tables and chairs, couches and big-screen TVs mounted high on the walls. Each block houses up to 16 residents each has a modern classroom.”

CFJC currently houses only 19 juveniles, but Constantine wants to shut it all down. He tweeted, “Phasing out centralized youth detention is no longer a goal in the far distance. We have made extraordinary progress and we have evolved to believe that even more can be done.”

Constantine said that “the new plan is to repurpose the building into a space for therapeutic and community use, as part of the county’s greater commitment to rehabilitation and crime reduction, rather than punishment.”

For eight weeks, Seattle has been rocked with violence, arson, looting, destruction, and murder. And the violence continues, as the headlines proclaim:

Seattle’s response? Defund the police. Close the county jail. Shut down the juvenile justice center. And keep imagining. “I hope some day you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”

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Photo from Mauro Pedro da Silva /


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