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Seattle 'police bunker' plan moves ahead as protesters surge City Hall

An artist's rendering of the proposed new North Precinct station for the Seattle Police Department.
City of Seattle
An artist's rendering of the proposed new North Precinct station for the Seattle Police Department.

The Seattle City Council will take a new look at the cost of a controversial police building.

But the project is moving ahead.

The decision Monday came amid loud opposition to the $149 million building in North Seattle along Aurora Avenue.

During public comments, speaker after speaker slammed the proposal. Some said the money could be better spent on housing or transit.

At one point, people in a waiting area surged up to the council chambers and Council President Bruce Harrell called a recess as those inside council chambers shouted “Let them in! Let them in!”

After the meeting started again, the crowd heckled council members who tried to speak.

Harrell told them not to lecture him that Black Lives Matter. “My three kids are black. I’m black. My wife is black,” he said.

Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez proposed amending the project resolution to re-examine the cost and consider racial equity before moving ahead during the budget process this fall. The resolution passed.

The police department says the building would help meet training requirements of a consent decree between the city and the Justice Department on the use of force and biased policing. Gonzalez was late to the meeting because she was attending a federal court hearing on the decree.

But the project has been called an overpriced police bunker that would be the most expensive precinct building in the United States. Just last week, the proposed budget for it was pared down from $160 million.

Harrell acknowledged there was work to do to come up with a project that made budget sense and addressed the concerns of those who opposed it.

“I don’t know how anyone could support the precinct in its current state, quite candidly,” he said. “If you are fighting passionately for Black Lives Matter or you are a fiscal conservative on the far right that doesn’t even care about Black Lives Matter, we have a lot of challenges.”

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