Published May 4, 2007
Seattle police department’s continual targeting of communities of color and lack of accountability for police misconduct and violence is at the forefront of organizing efforts in Seattle Hip Hop. In September of last year, Seattle Hip Hop pioneer DJ DV-One was assaulted by police officers attempting to inquire about his 14 year old daughter who was being detained. DV-One now faces felony assault charges and $15,000 dollars in fines.
Last month, emcee, spoken word poet, and teaching Hip Hop artist Rajnii Eddins was wrongfully arrested while trying to find out why his student was being detained. Rapid response from the Hip Hop and spoken word communities packed courtrooms in both cases, and has drawn widespread attention to the ongoing issue of police brutality in this city.
As a response to this outcry, the Seattle chapter of the NAACP hosted a community meeting earlier this week, where about thirty people gathered and formed committees for an action coalition around the issue. “What we saw at this gathering was an outcry of the brutality that has been happening over the years that has gone unaddressed,” says emcee and teaching artist Amanda “Beloved1” Cumbow, who is also the chair of the newly-formed communications committee. Beloved1 maintains that the greater purpose of the coalition is to organize the efforts and energies behind these individual incidents into a cohesive force. “We must present a united front to the politicians and the police department to get legislative changes,” she asserts.
The police brutality action coalition is asking for the community’s continuing input, support, and participation in this process. While the NAACP is an important ally in this battle, it was the voices, effort, and expertise of the people on the ground that has brought them to the table, and it will be that of the people who ultimately determine the extent of structural change that will come.
Listen to Seattle community members speak out about Rajnii’s case following the hearing on The Twomp. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD