Anger about a videotaped jaywalking stop bubbled over last night at a public hearing about whether to confirm John Diaz as Seattle’s new police chief, the Seattle Times reports. The incident, in which a Seattle police officer punched an African-American teenager after she pushed him, was brought up repeatedly during the two-hour hearing by people who said Diaz and other Seattle leaders had not responded strongly enough.
The police officer is the subject of an internal investigation, and Diaz has said he can’t talk much about the incident because of the investigation, but many at the hearing were furious that he hasn’t spoken out against the officer’s actions. Most critics of Diaz at the hearing spoke about the jaywalking incident and what they view as Diaz’s poor relationship with the black community. The acting chief’s supporters from a number of communities – including some African Americans – praised him for his character and his long record of work as a Seattle officer. “His integrity is impeccable,” said Roberto Maestas, the founder of El Centro de la Raza. Representatives from the Nation of Islam and the NAACP were among members of the black community who spoke about the punching incident as an example of injustice and a reason they believe the Seattle City Council should not confirm Diaz.