KVI Commentary: what to make of Seattle's "Street Czar"

I-940 de-escalation Andre Taylor media gaggle KOMO.jpg
Andre Taylor, center holding cell phone, undertakes a new position with the city of Seattle after helping lead the campaign to pass I-940, a policing reform effort in Washington.{ } (file photo: KOMO News){ }{ }

Seattle is spending $150,000 for a new position, loosely designated as a "Street Czar". The man hired for that position--as the city continues to struggle with anti-police vandalism and property damage--is the driving force behind the voter approved I-940 which intends to bring more accountability to police officer involved shootings (OIS). Andre Taylor helped lead the voter approval of I-940.

KOMO News reported on this one-year city contract for Taylor, which is characterized as a consultant position as the city elected officials--city council and mayor--continue to battle over 'defunding' police.

According to KOMO's report, under the terms of the year-long contract, the city will pay Taylor and his group, called Not This Time, $150,000 to provide "expertise and support services in de-escalation, community engagement, and alternatives to policing.” Taylor said the role will benefit the city and its outreach efforts to the community.

Outreach efforts to the community.

That's the key phrase.

Some of the reporting so far seems to infer that Taylor will be a city intermediary to the small but fervent anti-police activists that persist in Seattle, fueling the city council's myopic push to defund police. Taylor has plenty of reasons to be on the side of this activist group. His brother Che Taylor was fatally shot by Seattle police in 2016.

But the KOMO story includes plenty of video of Taylor, recently, trying to talk sense to some of the activists involved in CHOP and those activists do not receive Taylor favorably.

So my question for city officials who decided to provide this handsome consultant salary for one year is: how do you measure whether or not this hire is successful?

Is the hope that Taylor can persuade the anti-police activist wing--the hardliners who conduct the semi-regular vandalism sprees destroying windows and causing property damage--to stop? If so, that would be a sizeable victory to bring some kind of sanity to Seattle. The city is a laughing stock around Puget Sound, the state and even the nation for allowing this frequent destruction to happen at the hands of the anti-capitalist/anti-cop activists.

I'm skeptical that Taylor can succeed in that effort to curb the on-going property damage because the city officials (prosecutor, city council and the mayor) have already given these destroyers such a wide berth that there's no real reason for them to change their ways. They don't face repercussions for their behavior as it stands now (again, what does smashing out the windows of a Whole Foods have to do with achieving more police accountability?).

Its just ironic that Seattle city officials created this atmosphere for continuing destructive behavior and now they hope that bringing in Andre Taylor will provide community outreach to these unreachable souls.

Offbeat News