Hundreds of people expressed deep mistrust of the Seattle Police Department last night in a heated and raucous forum prompted by a police officer’s fatal shooting of a woodcarver and other high-profile incidents. the Seattle Times reports. Mayor Mike McGinn and Police Chief John Diaz pledged to address the concerns with better training and community relations, amid catcalls and angry outbursts that punctuated the two-hour meeting.
“I’m directly accountable to the voters for this,” McGinn told the audience, filled with many from Seattle’s minority communities and a brother of John Williams, whose death in August has served as a galvanizing force to bring out long-simmering anger. City Council member Nick Licata said the turnout was the largest he had ever seen in Seattle on the issue of police accountability and called McGinn’s and Diaz’s presence “precedent setting.” Some questioned the sincerity of the event, with shouts for Diaz to resign or be fired. James Bible, president of the local NAACP branch, interrupted the forum, angrily referring to it as a “puff piece” as the U.S. Justice Department launches a preliminary review into the Police Department’s practices in dealings with minorities.