The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 75/No. 9      March 7, 2011

Hundreds protest decision
to not prosecute Seattle cop
(front page)
SEATTLE—Hundreds protested here February 16 the decision by King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg not to prosecute Seattle police officer Ian Birk for gunning down John T. Williams on August 30. Williams, 50, was a woodcarver and member of one of Canada’s First Nation tribes.

The prosecutor’s decision was made hours after a scathing report by the Seattle Police Department Firearms Review Board. The board found the Williams shooting “unjustified.” Birk resigned just hours after its findings were released.

An inquest jury in January had also concluded the officer faced no imminent threat from Williams, who was walking across an intersection with his carving knife and a block of wood when he was killed.

The county prosecutor said that “however tragic the outcome might be” state law prevents him from filing criminal charges because it couldn’t be proved the cop acted with malice or in bad faith. Williams’s family attorney, Tim Ford, cited evidence the police officer initiated the attack on Williams.

After a mid-afternoon press conference where Seattle police chief John Diaz released the review board’s findings, some 200 protesters, including members of Williams’s family, Native American groups, and other supporters filled the lobby inside City Hall. Many held signs protesting police brutality.

Juan Jose Bocanegra of the Seattle immigrant rights group El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social said, “The Native American and immigrant rights movements should work more closely together in the future."

Two hours later another rally took place at a park across from Westlake Center, a major downtown shopping mall. Several hundred marched to the location where Williams was killed. Many motorists honked in support.

A rally and carve-in took place at Victor Steinbrueck Park on February 19 to honor Williams’s life and a collection was taken towards the creation of a totem pole in his memory. More than 200 people attended the event.

Robert Chabolla, member of the Salish Nation of Seachelt in British Columbia, told the Militant, “They need to change house from top to bottom—Diaz, the prosecutor, everybody.”
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Houston meeting denounces brutality by police department  
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