Mayor Murray put the North Precinct construction project on hold, with a promise to go back to the drawing board. He apparently decided that the public embarrassment of being called out over the “Police Bunker” was too much to bear.
Within minutes of the Mayor’s announcement, Councilmember Kshama Sawant declared victory on behalf of her Socialist Alternative party. Somewhat later, the community activists responsible for the Block the Bunker movement quietly announced the continuation of their efforts.
Sawant and the movement organizers do not have exactly the same ideas about where to go from here. Sawant wants to use the money budgeted for the precinct to “build 1,000 homes.” The Block the Bunker coalition references their wider agenda: “The funding intended for the bunker, [for] more police, and [for] the new youth jail should be going towards social services and to respond to the crisis of homelessness.”
This is an interesting example of an elected official stepping in front of a popular movement. On the one hand, it’s to Sawant’s credit that she is lending the power of her office to publicize the cause and to get information from the City that would otherwise be unobtainable. On the other hand, it’s not clear if she is adopting the community’s agenda or substituting her own.
We expect that Sawant’s proposal to “build 1,000 homes” will be discussed as part of her annual People’s Budget process, the details of which have not yet been announced. Stay tuned!
Update – Friday, Sep. 16 at 4:20 PM: I was pleased to see that Councilmember Sawant included a link to the Block the Bunker web site in a press release filed at 8:00 AM this morning. This is the first time I have seen her office provide this important practical acknowledgement. Two representatives of the Block the Bunker coalition were slated to be present at this morning’s “celebration,” so perhaps the two groups are working together more closely than is evident from their public pronouncements.