Protesters outraged after Mayor Harrell proposes increasing police funding in 2024

Protesters outraged after Mayor Harrell proposes increasing police funding in 2024

Harrell’s budget would increase SPD’s funding by over $17 million next year.

Dozens of people gathered in Seattle’s Seward Park for a protest on Sunday. 

“Justice for Jaahnavi” was organized by Seattle South Asians 4 Black Lives and South Asians Resisting Imperialism.

The protest’s namesake, Jaahnavi Kandula, is the 23-year-old woman a Seattle police officer hit and killed back in January. According to SPD, that officer was driving 74 miles per hour in a 25-mile-per-hour zone. The officer’s lights were flashing but he did not have his sirens on. 

Kandula was stepping into a crosswalk and had less than two seconds to react before the officer crashed into her. New video shows the moments right before and after Kandula was hit and killed.

Another video thrust Kandula’s death into the worldwide spotlight. It was released in September.

Seattle Police Officer Daniel Auderer was recorded on body cam video talking about Kandula’s death. The video captured him saying “But she is dead” and laughing while on the phone. “She was 26 anyway,” Auderer said in the video. “She had limited value.” 

Auderer is the vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, the largest law enforcement labor union in the Northwest. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) announced last Thursday that Auderer “has been administratively re-assigned to a non-operational position.” In a letter to the Office of Police Accountability, Auderer said his comments were shared without context. That full letter can be read here.

Against this backdrop, protesters are calling for SPD to have its budget cut. They were outraged to learn Mayor Bruce Harrell’s proposed 2024 budget gives the police department over $391 million, an increase of $17 million from the 2023 budget. A breakdown of what all that money would cover can be found here.

Protesters marched to Harrell’s Seward Park home, to hold a rally outside. Police showed up, but did not confront the protesters.

KING 5 reached out to Harrell’s office for a comment on the protest. A spokesperson directed us to Harrell’s budget speech last week where he had this to say about recent events centered around SPD.

“We cannot have safety without accountability and community trust,” Harrell said. “Sadly, we have seen that trust fractured through recent events where officers have disrespected and dehumanized our neighbors. Those comments make me incredibly sad and incredibly disappointed.”

The spokesperson said the proposed budget “includes a 30% increase in funding for the CARE department.” The budget will allow for diversified emergency responses beyond traditional police and fire, according to the mayor’s office. You can learn more about that here.

The Seattle City Council must approve the proposed budget.

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