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News / Northwest

Community leaders: Seattle police chief target of racism and ‘mutiny’

By Mike Carter, The Seattle Times
Published: May 27, 2024, 6:06pm

SEATTLE — A trio of women community leaders of color with personal and professional ties to Seattle police Chief Adrian Diaz say racism and a “mutiny” within the ranks of the department are behind a series of recent legal claims and accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him.

The women held a news conference Thursday outside El Centro de la Raza to voice their support for a chief they said “can’t speak for himself” due to the litigation, but wanted it known that “all hell will break loose” if Mayor Bruce Harrell fires Diaz over these allegations.

The participants included Victoria Beach, a Seattle Police Department employee who chairs the department’s African American Community Advisory Council; the Rev. Harriett Walden, founder of Mothers for Police Accountability; and Carmen Martinez, a South Park youth advocate and the Latino advisory liaison with the Police Department. They said Diaz did not know about or otherwise sanction their comments.

None of the three are involved in any of the discrimination or hostile-workplace tort claims and lawsuits filed on behalf of seven employees and pending against Diaz and the department in the last year, but all say they know Diaz and that he’s not capable of the behavior described.

“This is not fair. He cannot speak for himself” while others “make it seem like he’s guilty,” Beach said, referring to critical comments from some council members after a Black longtime Seattle police captain sued last week, alleging discrimination and retaliation when he tried to report those concerns.

The department and Diaz have been the targets of a string of claims alleging racial and gender discrimination or retaliation, with some of the behavior purported to go back decades. Several of the accusers are white female officers who claim Diaz made them uncomfortable or otherwise acted inappropriately.