Black activists and faith leaders in Seattle criticized Black Lives Matter protesters for violence in their city and voiced their support for police chief Carmen Best.
"Being a black woman, she has the perspective of some of the groups that have the most troubled relationships with law enforcement," Leslie Braxton, a local reverend, said in a Thursday press conference.
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Best, Seattle’s first black police chief, announced on Aug. 10 she would step down after the city council approved sweeping police reform legislation that would cut millions in funding and nearly 100 officers from the city’s police force. Best said the city council's move was "reckless" and provides "no practical plan for community safety."
Police reform activist Andre Taylor, whose brother was shot and killed by Seattle police, criticized protesters marching in the name of Black Lives Matter.
"I don’t support Black Lives Matter, at least locally what local groups are doing," Taylor said. "There is a disservice being done. If the protest of agitation allows a level of violence—at least they don’t speak out against it—then people that want violence can mingle right in."
Best responded to the activists, saying she was "humbled and gratified" by their support, but said she was "confident" in her decision to retire after nearly three decades in the department.
The Seattle City Council moved quickly to enact police reform legislation this summer following nationwide anti-police protests. In addition to cutting millions in police department funding, the bill they passed on Aug. 10 prohibits the police department from removing homeless people from the streets and, according to Mayor Jenny Durkan (D.), will cut the city’s "most diverse class of police" officers from the force.
While anti-police protests have pushed many local governments to defund and reform their police departments, a recent Gallup poll found that more than 80 percent of black Americans want to maintain police presence in their neighborhoods.