Black community blaming ‘racism’ for police chief’s departure

VIDEO: Black leaders line up to say Seattle City Council's actions forced Best to resign

Some members of the African American community say racism prompted Seattle's first Black female police chief to retire.

They are blaming one of Seattle's most diverse city councils ever. They point out there are no Black people on the City Council for the first time since the 1960s. And they believe racism forced Carmen Best to leave her job as the city's top cop.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best wouldn't call out the Seattle City Council.

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"Yeah, I'm not using that harsh word," she said.

Neither would Mayor Jenny Durkan, her boss.

"They wanted to micromanage and play mini-police chief," was all Durkan would say. "It showed a complete of respect."

"This is an anti-Blackness issue at the highest level," declared police accountability activist Harriett Walden.

Unlike Best and Durkan, Walden did not hesitate to blame racism among the city's diverse City Council for forcing Best out.

"So people of color, at the end of the day, they don't always stand for us," she said.

Walden says she sees the "anti-Blackness" on the current council.

"That's right," she said. "I see it on this council. Because they wouldn't have done it against O'Toole. I don't care how many people was in the streets marching. There's no way they would have defunded the police department with a white lady."

It was largely due to Walden's strong advocacy that Best was sworn in to the top job almost two years ago.

She replaced Kathleen O'Toole, the city's first female police chief.

But activists said then Best's nearly three decades with SPD would likely not produce radical change.

Rev. Kenneth Ransfer, pastor of the Greater Mount Baker Missionary Baptist Church and among Best's most steadfast supporters, believes she was ultimately wronged by a council led by people of color.

"We have colorism within our own community," said Ransfer. "So I mean the move, to me, was an attack upon a Black woman, one of our first Black police chief(s)."

Reverend Walden says she now wants an initiative to change back to city wide voting for the City Council.

She believes that it will create a more diverse body that cares about the entire city.