Podcast | When defunding the police meets Seattle’s political reality

More than 6 months after first pledging to rethink public safety, city leaders face opposition. What’s next?

This podcast is supported by:

Crosscut Festival logo
Protesters hold signs

Community members hold a press conference addressing an upcoming Seattle City Council vote on an agreement between the Seattle Police Officers Guild and the city of Seattle at City Hall, Nov. 13, 2018. (Dorothy Edwards/Crosscut)

As anti-racism protesters filled city streets this past summer with calls for a radical rethinking of public safety, a majority of Seattle City Council members responded by committing to cut the city's police budget by 50%. But making good on that promise has been difficult.

In this, the final episode of This Changes Everything’s focus on efforts to defund the police, host Sara Bernard and reporter David Kroman discuss the political pain and potential ramifications that have come since the council members committed to those cuts.

Subscribe to This Changes Everything on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcher, or Podbean.

So far, the council has made cuts to the city police budget amounting to nearly 20%. Will they make those additional cuts? Will oppositional forces prevent them from doing so? What comes next? One thing about the future is known: The hard work of reforming the police force is still to come.

In this six-part podcast, available now in its entirety, Bernard and Kroman take a close look at the challenges of policing today and explore whether it’s even possible to downsize the police force and create a new public safety regime that is more equitable and safe.

Keep listening:

Episode 1: How reform gave way to ‘Defund the Police’ in Seattle

Episode 2: Seattle police, social workers and mental health crisis calls

Episode 3: When police response to a crisis call goes wrong

Episode 4: An Oregon city’s decades-old alternative to police

Episode 5: Defund, then what? Seattle activists’ ideas for police dollars


Transcripts for This Changes Everything are the product of a third-party service. The audio stands as the official record for the reporting in this series.

Anonymous speaker: [00:00:00] This episode of This Changes Everything is presented by the Crosscut Festival, May 3rd through the 8th, online and in Seattle.

Sara Bernard: [00:00:09] So, depending on how long you've lived in Seattle and how involved you are in civic life, you may or may not know that former city council president Tim Burgess spent eight years as a police officer here.

He told Crosscut staff reporter David Kroman about it recently.

Tim Burgess: [00:00:22] I became a Seattle police officer in the early 1970s, when our city was emerging from another scandal around the police. It was a federal investigation of corruption of city government in seattle.

Sara Bernard: [00:00:42] Specifically, Seattle police had been taking cash bribes for decades, mostly from illegal gambling operations, threatening to shut them down if they didn't pay up. A New York Times article from July 1970 reports that by the time the feds got involved, police on the vice squad and in the downtown core were raking in $12,000 a month in these so-called shakedowns. That's about $80,000 in today's dollars.

Burgess wasn't a police officer. Then he was a journalist covering the trials that resulted from the federal investigation. But the need for reform led to a call for new recruits and Burgess answered it.

Tim Burgess: [00:01:18] And so I signed up and went through the process of being hired and going to the academy and then serving on the street as a patrol officer for several years.

And I also did some public affairs work for the chief of police, a couple of special investigations in the office of the chief of police. And then I ended my time there as a detective investigating burglary, theft and fraud cases.

I spent almost eight years in the police service. So, the roots of my interest in policing and in public safety go way back to that ancient history, some 50-plus years ago.

So, you know, early in my life I had some pretty dramatic experiences that exposed me to both the good and the bad of policing.

Sara Bernard: [00:02:14] Among the bad, he says during those patrol years, was pretty overt racial bias.

Tim Burgess: [00:02:19] You would see, fairly routinely, kind of an overaggressiveness aimed at some. This is certainly true of African-Americans, but it's also true of young people, teenagers, you know, kids doing what kids do and it was not uniform everywhere, but it happened enough that, you know, one would take notice of it.

Sara Bernard: [00:02:51] Fast forward to the late '90s, early '00s, after various twists and turns in his career, and Tim Burgess was getting back into civic work. He chaired various city commissions and committees, including a citizen committee on the police department's response to the massive WTO protests of 1999.

Tim Burgess: [00:03:12] And our committee  concluded that the police department's response to WTO was flawed for two primary reasons.

First they didn't plan and prepare adequately. And then when it happened, because they weren't prepared, because they lack the manpower, because they had not established good protocols and clear instructions for how they were going to deal with these protests, they overreacted.

Sara Bernard: [00:03:52] Burgess was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2007. And by the time he was a few years into elected office, after having been a police officer, seeing things from the inside and then someone who again studied the police from the outside, he says he had a mixed view of things.

Tim Burgess: [00:04:07] I knew that there were hundreds and hundreds of police officers who reported for their shift every day, seven days a week, you know, all year long and did exemplary work. But I also viewed the police department as insular. There was not a culture of inquiry there. They were suspicious of seeking counsel from outside the police department. We had this really misguided, crazy city law that was adopted in the 1970s that said that no person could enter the police service in Seattle above the rank of patrol officer, which means that no commanders from outside.

It was a system that basically bred on itself and grew up and evolved in a closed hierarchical culture that now in retrospect, looking back, we can say was incredibly harmful and resulted in this myopic view of the police service and how they should do their work. And, so, that was frustrating.

Sara Bernard: [00:05:34] But because it wasn't all bad, Burgess says, that actually made it difficult to address the problems.

The question was, how to correct the bad without diminishing the good, and the answer wasn't clear. But in 2012, the city was forced to try, thanks to the second major federal investigation of the Seattle Police Department, the ongoing one about use of force and racial bias in policing.

Tim Burgess: [00:05:55] And I think, you know, all things being considered, that process has served us well and has resulted in some very significant changes in the police department. Unfortunately, there's still a lot to be done.

David Kroman: [00:06:12] Tim Burgess has sort of become this, you know, moderate Democrat figure in Seattle who basically supports the same goals as a lot of the more progressive left in Seattle. But, you know, supports following a kind of traditional path to get there.

Sara Bernard: [00:06:27] David Kroman knows Tim Burgess pretty well. He interviewed him many times while he was a city council member and closely followed the end of his political career, which culminated in a brief stint in the mayor's office after the resignation of former mayor Ed Murray amid a scandal that could fill up its own podcast. Anyway, to David, Burgess is a kind of archetype of Seattle politics.

David Kroman: [00:06:48] He's a very legislative driven guy. He believes in, you know, doing studies and, you know, he's kind of an evangelist for the Seattle process, in some ways.

Tim Burgess: [00:06:59] Public safety is very fragile and it's important that we go about this task of transformation, listening to the community, not just the activist, but the broad cross-section of our community, that we consult with experts that we listen to criminologists and others who have studied crime and policing.

Sara Bernard: [00:07:25] And so he's someone who really doesn't agree with the dramatic moves of the Seattle City Council over the past six months. I mean, to some degree, the biggest goals of the movement, sure. But giving up on police reform, going for broke on something untested and entirely new? No way.

David Kroman: [00:07:41] I think Tim Burgess probably represents a fairly significant portion of the Seattle population, which sees issues with public safety, agrees that something should be done, but are not willing to blow up the system as it is right now.

Sara Bernard: [00:07:58] I'm Sara Bernard, and this is This Changes Everything, a podcast from Crosscut about the new normal. So, here we are in 2021. The movement goes on, but the massive daily street protests and neighborhood shutdowns of last spring and summer have more or less subsided. The Seattle City Council expressed its support for a 50% cut to  the Seattle Police Department and then ended up cutting about 20%.

So where do we go from here? To some, these cuts aren't adequate and to others, insane.

When it comes to both cuts and investments, they're are already factions. There's already backlash. So how do you make change this big? It's not an easy road.

And since this whole debate is about race and justice and health and safety and oppression and freedom and power and democracy, it is incredibly visceral, incredibly fraught. But because we live in a democracy, we're going to fight this out as a city and as a nation. Chances are, it's going to be another hell of a year.

Stay with us.

Okay. So, David called up Tim Burgess not just because he's a former elected official well-versed in the conversation around police reform. It was also because there's reason to believe that his views are relatively comment in the region right now. As we pointed out earlier in this series, just 20% of Seattle voters who Crosscut polled last fall supported the idea of cutting the police force by half.

A whole lot more supported the more general idea of shifting money away from police and investing it in other things like social services and community programs.

To those who oppose the idea of dramatically defunding the police, like Burgess, the city council's response to the protests has been confounding.

Tim Burgess: [00:10:22] I get frustrated when I see what happened in the summer when seven of nine members of our city council pledged to cut the police department's budget by half.

I mean, talk about irresponsible and it, you know, it drove our police chief away ...

Broadcaster: [00:10:39] right now at 11, Seattle police chief Carmen Best announcing her retirement in an email to the entire Seattle police department tonight.

It comes just hours after the city council voted to slash SPDs budget, a move the chief has fiercely opposed.

Tim Burgess: [00:10:52] ... which was a terrible loss for our city.

Carmen Best: [00:10:55] For me, personally, this was a decision I wrestled with.

Broadcaster: [00:10:58] Having the first Black woman to lead the department step down in this way is upsetting to people who say Chief Best is a great leader.

They are not proceeding in my personal opinion with the kind of rigorous analysis and care that these areas demand.

And best also telling King 5, her relationship through this process with the council was beyond repair.

Tim Burgess: [00:11:25] I think recent actions by the city council have created unnecessary risk to public health and safety in our city. Just listen to what Chief Best said when she left. That was her core reason ...

Carmen Best: [00:11:41] I do not believe we should ask the people of Seattle to test out a theory that crime goes away if police go away, that is completely reckless.

Tim Burgess: [00:11:51] ... that the reckless actions of the city council have put public safety at risk and she was not willing to stay in her position under those circumstances.

David Kroman: [00:12:05] It seems like you think, not only will the council's efforts to address the protest, will not only not succeed, they could be sort of actively harmful to their own goals.

Tim Burgess: [00:12:17] Yes. And I'm not alone in that view. Professor Robert Crutchfield at the University of Washington, a nationally renowned criminologist, has said the same thing.

Sara Bernard: [00:12:28] In a published interview with Burgess, actually, Robert Crutchfield did say that taking money from police to fill gaps in social services was the wrong way to think about these things.

And he said, "To arbitrarily decide we are going to defund the police by 50% before asking a lot more questions puts the cart before the horse." In other words, Burgess says ...

Tim Burgess: [00:12:48] ... efforts to defund the police without a plan that will adequately address what happens when you have fewer police officers risks harm.

Sara Bernard: [00:13:06] Without a plan. That's the key phrase here. That lack of a comprehensive plan to replace police is of course what's driving a lot of this research and investment into alternatives. But it's also, frankly, what's hounding the members of the Seattle City Council as they move into a new phase of this whole explosive debate.

So many of the council made public announcements last summer, supporting cutting SPD by 50%. But that's not what they're doing now. And in some ways that's not what they meant.

David Kroman: [00:13:52] It's, you know, it's fairly clear where the activist movement stands on this, which is to make cuts and go from there. And I would say that the impression that the Seattle City Council gave over the summer was they agreed with that. People were tweeting out, "I support cutting the police department by 50%." In reality, they didn't really agree with that. They agreed that if there was a reality in which they could cut the Seattle Police Department by 50%, in a way that made them feel comfortable, they would support that. They haven't gotten there yet.

There's Kshama Sawant, who, when she said she wants to cut 50% of the police department, she means that literally. She introduced a proposal a few times to literally cut the department's budget in half right away.

You might totally disagree with that, but when she says cut 50%, she means that literally.

I would say that the rest of the city council was always sort of trying to walk a sort of tight rope between what they believed was realistic and what they believed would curry favor with the fairly vocal activist and protest movement that was happening at the time. And so even now, if you go back and look at some of the Seattle City Councils statements, you can't find a majority of the city council, at least, that said I'm ready to cut 50% of the police department. Like, right now some of those statements are more like, I support the goal of working toward a reality in which 50% of the police department is no longer necessary.

Sara Bernard: [00:15:35] So the 2021 budget won't cut SPD by half. More like a bit less than a fifth. And that certainly sounds like a lot, but David argues, in some respects it really isn't.

David Kroman: [00:15:46] A lot of those cuts come from moving things out of the Seattle Police Department into other areas.

Sara Bernard: [00:15:53] So for example, the 911 dispatch center, that's a $36 million piece of the department, mostly staffed by civilians, but run by captains and lieutenants.

David Kroman: [00:16:02] So 911 callers have always been in the Seattle Police Department. There's actually been an effort that long predates the "defund the police" rallying cry to move 911 callers outside of the police department. And so basically this has spurred the city to do what people have been, you know, experts and analysts have been saying should be done for a long time.

Sara Bernard: [00:16:22] And the main reason for that is fairly logistical. It's just that some analysts argue that running a dispatch center is not something that police captains are particularly qualified to do. And by the time they learn, they rotate out.

David Kroman: [00:16:33] So that was one big change. And then parking enforcement officers are being moved to a different department. And, again, the function is not going away. It's just sort of being moved out of the department. So, a lot of that 20% cut comes from things like that, where you're moving basic functions out of the Seattle Police Department, but they're still going to keep doing their job, just somewhere else.

Sara Bernard: [00:16:53] And when it comes to the number of officers in the department, that's in flux. Because so many officers have been leaving the force on their own, the current staff is at about 1300, so roughly 120 officers or so fewer than there were just a few months ago, which is a lot in some respects and could impact specialty investigation units, and, some argue, 911 response times.

But the thing is that isn't necessarily going to last.

David Kroman: [00:17:18] The whole city is in a hiring freeze because of COVID and that has included the Seattle Police Department. And so this year that is how most of the cuts to the Seattle Police Department are actually going to be achieved. It's not that that many cops are getting laid off, it's that cops are leaving on their own accord and the city is not replacing them.

So the question is, do you continue that into next year? Do you continue to allow cops to leave on their own and then not replace them in late November? The city council decided not to do that by voting against a proposal to extend the hiring freeze.

Interestingly, the police department could actually theoretically grow next year ...

Sara Bernard: [00:17:58] and by next year, David means this year, 2021.

... in

David Kroman: [00:18:01] part because the city council declined to do anything that would hal tthe hiring of new officers next year. So we're going to see a shrink this year, but some of those could be replaced. For everything that happened in the summer and for all of their commitments, talking about 50% cuts, the city council at the end of the day, basically concluded that they don't have the infrastructure in place yet to feel comfortable allowing the police department to shrink that much. They still theoretically support shrinking the police department, but in a way that I don't think we saw earlier, they're more clearly tying that to the scaling up of things that could take its place,

KInd of we're in this more sort of typical governing reality. I mean, it's not that different than before the protest movement, which is, you know, we have these goals and let's legislatively get there and it's going to take awhile, and it's going to be really messy, which is it's probably going to get bogged down in process and there's going to be a lot of hiccups.

And that's just a much different reality than defund the police, "let's cut 50%."

Sara Bernard: [00:19:24] We'll be right back.

Anonymous speaker: [00:19:37] This last year has changed the way we talk about race, policing, public health politics, the climate, the arts, and the economy. And in many ways it's changed how we talk to one another. But it hasn't stopped the conversation.

This spring, the Crosscut Festival will keep that conversation going with a week of events where journalists, politicians, artists and newsmakers will talk about our uncertain present and our possible future. We'll explore the issues that are shaping our country and our world. This year's guests include PBS Newshour anchor Judy Woodruff, travel expert Rick Steves, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich and many more who will be announced on March 8th.

Join us at the Crosscut Festival, May 3rd through the 8th. For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to crosscut.com/festival.

Okay. Back to the show.

Sara Bernard: [00:20:47] So, maybe this whole process of transforming public safety might actually go a lot more slowly than it seemed at first. To some, like Tim Burgess, this is a relief. But to others, well, this is just more incrementalism.

David Kroman: [00:21:00] There has been a lot of process in Seattle and specifically a lot of process around policing. Dating back to the 1970s, there have been a lot of task forces. There have been a lot of blue ribbon panels and, you know, after-incident commissions and things like that, and the federal consent decree, and there has been a lot of bureaucratic, plodding process to try and create a better police department.

And yet, that hasn't satisfied a lot of the people who still see significant issues in policing,

Sara Bernard: [00:21:32] THis ongoing cycle of crisis and reform is one that Burgess has noticed.

Tim Burgess: [00:21:36] So, the question becomes, why have these previous efforts not taken root?

Sara Bernard: [00:21:44] Burgess thinks one reason is that reform is so often kind of forced on police from the outside and police unions can often block these reforms

Tim Burgess: [00:21:53] ... and we should learn from that lesson. In order to have effective, long lasting, true transformation, we need police officers to help lead that process.

Sara Bernard: [00:22:06] Sean Goode, executive director of Choose 180, who you heard from in the last episode, he points to this idea too, that change needs to come from within.

Sean Goode: [00:22:15] I didn't have the privilege of starting Choose 180. The work began and preceded me in 2011. And in its infancy, it wasn't that difficult to get it up and going. All you really needed was a willing partner on the system side of things to acknowledge the harm that was being done, and a willing community member to lean into that partner and say, "Let's do something together."

And because the King County prosecutor-elect Dan Satterberg at the time leaned into community leader Doug Wheeler and confessed that they were failing Black and brown children, Doug worked together with Dan and together they created at that time what was called the 180 program. It wasn't incredibly complicated, but the humility that's required from an elected official or somebody who's serving on the side of things that are causing harm to the community, to be able to acknowledge that harm and then, in acknowledging it, begin to resource an alternative from within the office. Like, that's when you begin to see change manifested.

Sara Bernard: [00:23:19] Well, it's just genuinely really difficult. And that holds even, and especially when it comes to these alternatives to police that people are researching and piloting now. A lot of work is being done. A lot of work.

But exactly how any of that will shake out is still a wide open question.

David Kroman: [00:23:41] Okay, so, "We actually do have some real money now on the table to spend on this stuff. How do we spend it?" That's a really difficult conversation to have, because if you spend it poorly, then it's going to be ripe for criticism if it doesn't work.

Sara Bernard: [00:24:01] And it definitely might not, since a lot of it basically has never been done before.

David Kroman: [00:24:10] As we've seen with a lot of organizations in the city, you know, doing what you say you want to do and achieving what you say want to do is actually really difficult. I mean, it takes a lot of time. You have to study, you have to do studies to make sure that the things you're doing are working. Um, you have to be able to show results.

You know, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program is arguably one of the country's most famous alternatives to police and to arrest.

Sara Bernard: [00:24:39] Quick definition: The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program, orLEAD, helps keep low-level offenders out of the criminal justice system by offering them treatment and housing and other supportive services instead of jail time.

It's been around for years and gotten a lot of praise and support and has historically operated based on referrals from police.

David Kroman: [00:25:04] And yet it is still very small, and it's still sort of fighting to justify its existence every day, via trying to provide evidence that yes, in fact, what we are doing is working and, you know, we see some skepticism about, well, do we really want to give them another million dollars? Are we sure this is going to be a million dollars well spent. Now we're in this world, in which we're talking about spending a hundred million dollars and there's a fairly loud voice of people who are saying, "Give us this money," despite not really having done this work before. That's going to be a really hairy and tricky thing, that you're bringing on all these new voices who are advocating for creating kind of wholesale new responses to public safety.

Can they prove that what they're doing is, is working? I think that's going to be really hard and really complicated.

Sara Bernard: [00:25:59] There are, we should say, a whole bunch of small programs out there -- some of which we've mentioned in the series and some we haven't -- that, especially if they got some of this new money from the city, could keep doing what they're doing and grow.

Health One, for example, that Seattle Fire Department program that takes some health- and social-service-related 911 calls four days a week, it just got another $480,000 from the city. Then there's the Seattle Police Department's Community Service Officer program, which had been cut for budget reasons back in 2004, but was just reinstated after a long hiatus with about a dozen unarmed civilians who can respond to non-criminal issues.

And there's still councilmember Lewis's proposal on the table to create something like CAHOOTS in Seattle, but there's no clear movement on that yet.

David Kroman: [00:26:54] I mean, there's like little pots of money that like, I think Community Passageways is getting some more money and, you know, Health One, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.

I mean, these programs are getting some more money to grow a little bit. There's going to be more mental health providers embedded with the cops and civilian Community Service Officers and, you know, little things like that. But small scaling up of budgets is a much different universe than, you know, creating wholesale alternatives to the cops.

One is about growing modestly some promising programs. The other is about creating an entire new system of public safety. And so, as far as how the city is going to do the latter, I don't feel like we have a good sense of that just yet.

Sara Bernard: [00:27:42] And no matter what happens, one thing seems clear. It's going to be quite the year in local politics.

David Kroman: [00:27:48] There's going to be an enormous pressure for that money to be spent in a way that not only shows promise, but that people feel on the ground. And that's kind of the key difference, which is, a year from now, if people don't feel like things are any different that's going to be really hard for the policymakers who promised that things would feel different, because then they will start receiving pressure both from the people who are really concerned about a shrinking police department and the people who want to shrink the police department.

The question is, as those protests have sort of died down and, you know, some folks have lost patience with those protests, is there going to be then a sort of swing back in the other direction. And I think that in some respects, we're probably already seeing that a little.

And I think, you know, from hearing from certain council members, they are hearing from a lot of constituents who are really concerned about making fundamental changes to the police department. And so, you know, it's just sort of the nature of political movements that it's a pendulum that swings back and forth.

I think this summer, the pendulum was very squarely on the side of the activists and the movement and the protests and the defund. And I do think that there's a fairly good chance that the people for whom Tim Burgess is most representative, you know, could become more organized and become more vocal over the next year. And how the Seattle City Council responds to that, even as pressure from the other side continues, I think is going to be really interesting to see.

Sara Bernard: [00:29:38] So here's the thing. We've talked about this a lot in this series. Despite all the back and forth, all the arguments and the backlash and the divisiveness, the very biggest goals, the fundamental goals of the movement, those are really widely shared.

I would imagine a lot of people could agree with the broader statement of, I envision a world where police are not necessary, right?

David Kroman: [00:30:00] Like, at its most basic, if you need a cop, it's a bad day, almost universally. Everybody would love to live in a world without cops, because you know, a cop is showing up to a bad situation. And so if your argument is we should create a world in which fewer bad situations happen, that is a fairly universally agreed upon sentiment.

The difference being, how do you create that better world in which cops don't need to show up?

Sara Bernard: [00:30:33] And, I guess, can you create it? There are plenty of people who say, okay, that's very nice you guys, but a world without crime, without the need for law enforcement, that's just not possible. Tim Burgess is one of those people.

Tim Burgess: [00:30:47] I'm not an abolitionist. I do not believe that we can eliminate the police service and then have a safe city. I think that is very wrong-headed and I would ask those who advocate for that, show me a city that has successfully done that anywhere in the world. And I don't think they can provide that illustration.

Sean Goode: [00:31:14] I would love to live in a world where we didn't need police at all. I don't think that we live in that world today.

Sara Bernard: [00:31:19] This is Sean Goode again.

Sean Goode: [00:31:20] But I think that a failure to envision a world where we don't need police is a desire to envision a world where there's always crime, where there's always harm being done, where there's always people who are suffering and in response to their suffering, they're negatively impacting others.

And I would like to envision a world where those things don't exist. Now, that may be too utopian for some, but it's a possibility I would like to hold onto and begin to create towards. In the meantime, there certainly is a need for police in some aspects of our society, but we don't need police to be our behavioral health specialist. We don't need police to be our roadside assistance. We don't need police to be our case managers. We don't need police to do a variety of different things that police are currently doing in community and being tasked with things that really are beyond their scope and expertise. We don't need police in a lot of different spaces. They're just not necessary.

And so we begin to look at the spaces where we don't need them, then we can better utilize them in spaces where we do,

David Kroman: [00:32:28] If you laid out the basic goal and didn't include any details about how you plan to get there, there is enormous agreement on basically all sides. We don't believe police officers with guns are the best people to show up to a person in crisis. That's a fairly agreeable statement. We believe better job opportunities, better education, better housing options will reduce crime and is a good way to reduce crime. Also, not a very controversial statement that I would be hard pressed to find anyone to disagree with that. Mental health treatment. You know, these, these things, very few people disagree with these things.

So where we're at is not what helps, where we're at is how will we get there? It's so much less about what people say they want to achieve and more about the timing and speed and approach to achieving that.

Sara Bernard: [00:33:39] So, here we are, looking back at daily protests and the occupation of a whole neighborhood, back at the resigning of a police chief and the biggest cuts to the Seattle police department in decades. Looking ahead, to what exactly?

David Kroman: [00:33:53] I would say, right now, we are at the end of the beginning. The summer's protests and the movement over the summer, it was the result of just the perfect combination of circumstances, which is, you have a lot of people locked down in COVID-19. This notion that the country and political bodies couldn't do really big, enormous things really quickly was totally thrown out the window because we literally shut down our entire economy in order to get a virus under control, spent trillions of dollars floating people through one of the worst economic recessions in history. Any argument that major significant fundamental shifting changes couldn't be made fairly quickly was sort of rendered irrelevant.

The question, though, is as that moment passes, people go back to work, as people sort of try and piece their lives back together in the wake of the pandemic, how do you, how do you move on to the next thing? And I think that is going to be really complicated and really difficult.

Sara Bernard: [00:35:17] So, will the pendulum swing back in the other direction, or will the movement continue its pressure and keep up its momentum, despite all the bureaucracy and politics and infighting to come. No matter your point of view on this whole messy thing, it seems safe to say that where we've gotten on this is pretty astounding.

It's the next steps that are the hardest.

David Kroman: [00:35:37] For as dramatic and powerful as the protests were, and, you know, frankly, as controversial as they were, in some ways that was the easy part, because that happened organically. That was the result of this perfect confluence of events that led to that happening.

The next steps aren't going to be that organic. They're going to take a lot of, sort of buckling down and working consistently on some really frustrating and sometimes tedious tasks. That, I think, is going to be the complicated part.

Sara Bernard: [00:36:48] Thanks for listening to This Changes Everything. This episode was reported by David Kroman and produced  by me, Sarh Bernard. The story editor was Donna Blankinship and the executive producer was Mark Baumgarten. Our cover art is by Greg Cohen.

You can subscribe to This Changes Everything on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. And if you liked the show, please rate and review us. It really helps other people find us.

For more on This Changes Everything and other Crosscut podcast,  go to cros cut.com/podcasts.

For the latest political, environmental and culture news from the Pacific Northwest, visit crosscut.com.

This Changes Everything is a product of Cascade Public Media.

I'm Sara Bernard. You can listen to all of the episodes in this series right now at crosscut.com or wherever you get your podcasts.

About the Hosts