Seattle-area labor group expels police union, citing failure to 'dismantle racism'

Seattle-area labor group expels police union, citing failure to 'dismantle racism'
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Seattle's largest labor group expelled the city's police union in a vote Wednesday night, citing unaddressed racism within the police force's ranks. 

The King County Labor Council's expulsion of the Seattle Police Officers Guild comes after weeks of tense protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis that included some clashes between demonstrators and the Seattle Police Department.

Before the vote, police union president Mike Solan told labor group delegates that the department was "willing to learn," according to The Associated Press.

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“We are human beings and we are workers who are committed to this city and committed to the community,” Solan said. “We see a future, one that engages in these robust conversations, and in particular to race and how the institution of racism impacts all labor unions.”

The council's delegates voted 45,435 to 36,760 in favor of expelling the cop union.

“At this point, I just can’t justify to our members, ones who are staffing the medical tents and getting gassed by SPD, having SPOG at the table, using our unity as a shield to justify contracts that go against our principles and mission,” Jane Hopkins, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, said.

The expulsion also follows an unanimous vote by the Seattle City Council on Monday prohibiting Seattle police from using tear gas, pepper spray and other devices often used by law enforcement for crowd control.

After Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best promised Seattle residents that Seattle police wouldn't use tear gas against protesters, officers did so anyways, leading to the ban.

According to the AP, police have yet to return to Capitol Hill, Seattle's densest neighborhood, after Black Lives Matter protesters drove the force out of the area, creating an area that has been dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.