Jan 16, 2021
Today Crystal and Ashley Archibald, local reporter and friend of the show, get in to what is going on with Covid-19 vaccine distribution, the local ramifications of the white supremacist insurrection in Washington, D.C., and the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild president cosigning their actions.
A full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Vaccine reserve was exhausted when Trump administration vowed to release it, dashing hopes of expanded access by Isaac Stanley-Becker and Lena H. Sun, The Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/01/15/trump-vaccine-reserve-used-up
City Council members call for Seattle police union president to resign after Capitol remarks by David Gutman, The Seattle Times https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/pressure-mounts-on-seattle-police-union-president-mike-solan-following-capitol-siege-remarks-city-council-members-call-for-resignation/
SPD confirms two officers at U.S. Capitol riot, CPC seeks documents, and calls increase for SPOG president to resign by Paul Faruq Kiefer and Andrew Engelson, The South Seattle Emerald https://southseattleemerald.com/2021/01/11/spd-confirms-two-officers-at-u-s-capitol-riot-cpc-seeks-documents-and-calls-increase-for-spog-president-to-resign/
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm your host Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk with Political Hacks and Policy Wonks to gather insight into state and local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work and provide behind-the-scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a guest co-host.
Welcome back to the program today's guest, local journalist, Ashley Archibald.
Ashley Archibald: [00:00:25] Hi, thank you for having me.
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:27] Well, there certainly has been a lot that's transpired since the last time we have spoken . You know, so much has gone on - we had the insurrection and attempted coup at the Capitol, we have ongoing talks of violence, Joe Biden is supposed to be sworn in next week and Trump heading out. There is a lot going on locally still - Session just started - there's just so much happening - in the middle of a pandemic. So I guess the first place that we should probably start is just talking about where we stand with COVID and vaccinations. And when thinking about this show earlier in the week - thought, well, you know, we'll talk about how the vaccination - how vaccinations are running under the capacity that we have and we're having a hard time in this state and nationally, kind of across the board, getting all of the vaccine into people's arms. But actually this morning, there was a new dimension and wrench thrown into this story. Do you want to talk about that Ashley?
Ashley Archibald: [00:01:34] Sure. So the Washington Post came out with a story, and if somebody else got it first, my apologies, I saw it in WaPo. The Washington Post came out with a story that basically said that the reserves that we thought we had at the federal level of this vaccine that was supposed to make sure that people who got their first dose would also get their second doesn't exist. So earlier in the week, when the federal government said that they would be releasing all of the vaccine that was available and expanded the ability of people to get it to basically anybody over 65 from the previously a bit more constricted criteria, that was just impossible because they don't have additional doses of this vaccine, which is a little bit mind-blowing.
Crystal Fincher: [00:02:19] It's absolutely mind-blowing. And just as a reminder, these vaccines are not a one shot deal. What was studied and what these vaccines are designed for is - two shots, around a month apart , and really designed - for the full efficacy, for the full effectiveness, you need both shots. That's what gets you to the 95% number that they achieved and observed in their clinical trials.
So the thought was, Hey, America is starting out with 40 million doses. The federal government, from their own mouth, said, Hey, we're going to hold back 20 million of them, understanding that people need to get the second dose. So we'll get out the 20 million - get the first dose, get them scheduled for the second - but we know that we'll have 20 million people vaccinated with two doses. We're holding it back to make sure that everyone can get their second dose. States made plans based on that information. People have proceeded according to that. In the interim, some conversation did start - because we're in a pandemic that is spreading so rapidly, and this new strain is spreading so rapidly, and reports today say that they expect the new strain to be the predominant one in America by as early as March. And they said, Okay, well, you know, we're going to hold these back. And a lot of people said, Well, maybe just give everyone one and to help speed up the effort, we're gonna reduce the requirements and just anyone over 65 is now what the administration is recommending. And the CDC recommended just to give it to everyone over 65. States are in process, Washington is in process of developing high-volume vaccination sites, mobile vaccination sites, thinking that there is another 20 million doses being distributed throughout the country - we're going to double our supply. Only to hear this morning that, Hey, never mind. There is no more vaccine coming. You actually already have almost all of it.
So this vaccination effort is so far behind and now half the small scope that we thought it was going to be. And for just the average person who is not a frontline health worker or first responder, I mean, we may not get the vaccine for, until late this year. What, what does this mean for the overall effort?
Ashley Archibald: [00:04:51] Well, it's not good. It's not great, Crystal. I mean, we were already behind, we were already deploying these shots very slowly. There's a writer with The Atlantic whose name is, I believe, Zeynep Tufekci, and she's been very critical of the rollout of the vaccine, not specifically in Washington state, but in general, because people have been fairly precious about how they're releasing this. And it varies so much state by state, but the overall vaccination rate has been quite slow in general. And I understand why they were doing that - because they do want to prioritize people who are most at risk, like healthcare workers, frontline workers, essential workers, people in nursing homes, that sort of thing. And that does make good sense, but sometimes the perfect has been the enemy of the good here and we need people to be getting these shots in the arms. Because at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter if we have the extra 20 million doses of vaccine if we're not actually putting it in needles and injecting it.
Crystal Fincher: [00:05:58] Right. And that has been a huge problem - here in Washington state, less than a quarter, less than 25% of the vaccine that we currently possess has been administered to people, has gotten into people's arms. And so, as this is raging, and as businesses are closed, and everything is on pause as we try to get this under control, it's pretty important to try and get this on track as soon as possible. And certainly , localities have been underfunded. They've requested a significant amount of funding from the administration to build out the necessary infrastructure to get this virus, to get the vaccine into people's arms , and have been denied that funding - it's been delayed. There's some that was part of this most recent package passed that is going to start to help the states, but that's just coming now. And so there's still a lot of infrastructure that is in process of being built, but now it looks like we may be - you know, we need to get the existing vaccine out and kind of do a surge with that, but at the same time, we seem to be building infrastructure that there is no vaccine left to use it for. So this just continues to be a mess and depressing and people's lives continue to be affected. People continue to get sick and die. You know, this has major consequences and will cost lives.
And certainly a lot of wheels have been spinning - trying to get the infrastructure in place to deliver 40 million doses. And now we have half of that. It's just frustrating to be just a regular person and just to see this spiraling downhill and think, When is it going to stop? Even the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting further away again.
While we're dealing with this pandemic, we're also dealing with a wave of very violent and insurrectionist white supremacists that are roving the country. And we are not exempt from this locally , here in the Seattle area, and as a matter of fact, members of our own local police departments made their way to DC to try and overthrow the government. And on top of that, the head of the Seattle Police Guild made horribly false, demonstrably false, unprovable and inflammatory allegations - somehow in his logic, blaming Black Lives Matter for the Trump supporter insurrection at the Capitol. And sticking by it - doubling down on it. So, many people have called for his resignation, including the Seattle City Council, people who've been sympathetic to him in the past. He has been radicalized and his rhetoric continues to prove it. How do you see this week and what is happening within the police department and SPOG in regards to this insurrection and what it says about the state of law enforcement?
Ashley Archibald: [00:09:11] It is - I mean, first of all, yes, it is demonstrably false that the insurrection on January 6 at the Capitol building where, you know, the Capitol was taken over and lawmakers were threatened , was a result of Black Lives Matter activists. And we are, we can - even us, who have no special knowledge, I feel, can feel very comfortable saying that - because I've read the articles. I have seen some of the quoted chats - this was planned in some part out in the open, it was encouraged by the President of the United States. You know, this is not, this is not a false flag operation by any stretch of the imagination. There's no evidence to suggest that - it's a little bit wild. At the same time, I think that it was also interesting to watch that information about the participation of SPD officers drop at like 9:30 on a Friday night. The Friday night news dump usually doesn't - usually doesn't mean like Friday, middle-of-the-night news dump, so that, that was unexpected but certainly noted by people who are interested in this information. And I think that, we will see what SPD does with that. It seems from the statement released by interim Chief, Adrian Diaz, that if people were simply there exercising their First Amendment rights in the places where it was legal to do so - they probably will not see consequences for that. It would be more of the actual, you know, storming of the Capitol that people need to have avoided. I think that is - that's basically what he said, right?
Crystal Fincher: [00:10:49] Yeah. That is what I recall him saying. Saying if they were part of the storming of the Capitol, they would definitely be fired, but that would have to be proven. If they weren't part of that activity that - he commented on being fired. I don't know if he commented on there being no disciplinary action, but certainly drew a distinction that just being in DC was not going to be the determining factor. And as I look at this, there are two issues - clearly , you know, someone that was involved in the storming of the Capitol - not only should they be fired, but you know, charges would be appropriately brought as they're being brought in the other cases. I mean, this was done with the explicit intent and, you know, planned intent, as we see with so many of their videos and social media posts leading up to this event. They planned to interrupt the process of certification. They planned, as federal prosecutors have detailed and reiterated this morning, they planned to violently overtake and physically detain legislators and people working in the Capitol. This was a coup attempt. You know, no - no two bones about it. Not technically - this was literally a coup attempt. So it was literally an interruption and a direct attack on the peaceful transfer of power. And, you know, fortunately employees there had the foresight to take out the elector ballots so they could be counted later on - otherwise we could be in a humongous, constitutional crisis right now. So one, they may not be charged, but certainly the event was billed as Stop the Steal. The only reason to go was if you felt so strongly that there was widespread voter fraud, despite 60 lost elections, and hearing all of the rhetoric blaming massive voter fraud, committed by - coincidentally, conveniently - Black people. And the attempt at invalidating predominantly Black and Latino votes in key states - is scary to think about that mindset, that conspiracy theory taking hold so deeply, that they aren't just spouting that in their conversations here. They're flying to DC to be part of a group whose explicit purpose was to Stop the Steal, allegedly, of the election.
This attitude is terrifying - and the Seattle Police Department, and we're finding out that several off-duty cops from several departments across the country, were police. And Capitol police talking about how many of the people in the mob were flashing their police badges at them - that they were off-duty, but they were law enforcement taking part in the activities to interrupt the election on the 6th. To me, we have the information that we need to understand further, Wow, how toxic is that? How toxic is that belief? And if someone believes all the things that are being said - to lead them to fly to DC, because they're so upset at the things that they've heard from Trump mouths and the mouths of other white supremacists, to stand side-by-side with people with Confederate flags and Camp Auschwitz T-shirts - open, proud white supremacists. Law enforcement has been infiltrated. The SPD has been infiltrated. This is not surprising, not shocking. I mean, we've seen this, we've seen them protect people with these beliefs in protests downtown. But it just continues to show how broken these processes are and how urgent it is that there be accountability tied and massive culture changes.
Ashley Archibald: [00:15:07] We exist in a society where people are engaged in two completely different realities. And I don't know what you do to overcome that. I don't think everybody in that crowd genuinely believed that the election was stolen. I don't know that - that's just, I find it difficult to believe - how about that? But some people are true believers. Some people truly believe that the election was stolen, that Trump is here to save us from a cabal of like, Well, I mean, we don't even need to get into the QAnon stuff - that's just a whole other thing. But it's - people live in bifurcated realities and I don't know what to do. I don't know what the answer is - to bring people back to what I consider to be evident on its face, which is Trump lost this election. And what we saw on January 6th can be described in no other ways than trying to overturn a certified election in what we like to call, but I would argue isn't really, the world's oldest democracy. Like it's just - it's maddening.
Crystal Fincher: [00:16:21] Yeah, it is - it is maddening. And I actually want to underscore something and to not minimize it. I mean, to be clear, this was a publicly pre-planned event. You know, this is something that Trump and his cronies organized and paid for. Trump spoke at the event. This was a planned event with the title of Stop the Steal, with the explicit pre-stated purpose of - come to stop the stealing of the election by Joe Biden. So for anyone traveling to DC for this event, it seems to be a necessary prerequisite that they think that this - that they have fully bought in to the conspiracy that there was widespread voter fraud, widespread enough that it would have changed the election. And it should have been a landslide in favor of Trump, which we know has been rejected, in every legal and serious forum we have in the country.
But as you stated, that doesn't prevent people from falling prey to the conspiracy and the depth of disinformation. And of people who are completely separated from the reality as we see it and do genuinely believe that this election is being unfairly stolen from Trump and the QAnon stuff - it is, it sounds almost laughably ridiculous, right? But there are tens of millions of people who believe it.
Ashley Archibald: [00:18:01] And rejected by Republicans - rejected by Republican Secretaries of State - who, I mean, I'm not trying to lionize some of them - they have participated in what I consider to be voter suppression, hands down - especially, you know, look at Georgia. But for their own self-interest they're saying - minimally, you could say, I ran this election. This election was run correctly and you lost. And those people have been, for their trouble, been given death threats and told that they're the enemy and that sort of, I mean, it's just, it's amazing. It's a cult of personality that I don't - I don't fully understand.
Crystal Fincher: [00:18:44] Right. And it's hard - it's hard to understand because it is such an extreme view that seems so detached from reality. That it is - that it seems like it should be literally unbelievable, but we have watched, we have witnessed, the increased radicalization of people here. And it's concerning. And the problem we now find ourselves with is that these people are able to remain separated from the reality as we see it - they have an entire media ecosystem. They have an entire social media ecosystem - that was somewhat disrupted this week by the purging of so many QAnon, alt-right white supremacists , Trump conspiracy, election conspiracy websites. And Twitter, Facebook , Amazon has stopped hosting people, so there has been some de-platforming of some of the most visible people. But this is the Republican party. There are a small percentage of Republicans who have publicly said, This is actually not theft. But the very telling thing is that there are more Republicans who have refused to say, Hey, that's not true - it's a conspiracy. Or they've just flat out promoted the conspiracy themselves and far worse. We have congresspeople and state representatives who are QAnon believers. They were elected really recently. And they're sharing this information openly. We have lawmakers at the federal level who are refusing to go through metal detectors and disobeying orders of police , of the Capitol police, daily. They just do not feel that they are subject to the same laws and rules that we are, and they are operating with the encouragement of supporters, a base that they have cultivated, that cheers this lawless activity on. So they continue.
Ashley Archibald: [00:20:58] Going back to what you mentioned on the social media front - of those accounts being taken down. Obviously, Parler was basically got rid of when Amazon stopped hosting it. But it was one of the funnier things when you saw personalities complaining about how they'd lost tens of thousands of followers. And I'm like, Guys, why are you telling on yourselves? Like, is that really, is that really what you want to broadcast right now? Just shhhh - it's okay. You don't have to say it.
Crystal Fincher: [00:21:25] Yes - to see how many open racists and insurrectionists are in your network - and it is wide and vast. But I think that's - that's what we need to contend with - is that these are not people - there were many comments and I've heard a lot of punditry - trying to suggest that these people were downtrodden, economically anxious, didn't really know what they were saying, didn't really know that - didn't plan violence. Who was to see and to know that something like this could happen and subsequently, a ton of video footage, a ton of posts, where they are explicitly, frequently, broadly - planning, explicitly planning, violence . You know, they had blueprints and plans. And we're talking about locations that they needed to get to. They were talking about who they needed to detain. They beat savagely, viciously, several police officers who were there. This was a violent mob and, and yes, and killed an officer. This is a violent mob that was explicit about their violent intentions and that continues to be explicit about their continued violent intentions. And I still feel like so many people just do not take threats of violence from white men, in particular, seriously. Oftentimes because they don't feel like they're a direct threat.
And I think the action that we saw was because this was a situation where, Hey, actually, a number of the people who can pass laws and institute consequences for this were directly threatened. They had to shelter and they were in immediate danger of physical harm. I just think that they're detached from understanding that there's a lot of people in this position today, and these people are among us. The people at the Capitol were not downtrodden, poor - the picture of, They're just turning to this because they're struggling and, you know, they're just having a really challenging time. These were CEOs, there were several legislators. These are former military, former and current police officers. This was an upper middle-class crowd, actually , by and large. And so we need to contend that these are the people that we are interacting with every day. And to somehow act as if this can't permeate your communities, and you don't have a responsibility to say something when someone pops up with a conspiracy theory - to say, You know, actually, no, we're not going to normalize that. We're not going to act like that's rational. It is not and it's dangerous to continue this line of thought. That this has to be confronted and called out. And we can't allow beliefs like this to go on unchallenged because they have for too long and this is the result.
Ashley Archibald: [00:24:25] That being said, I'm kind of circling back to what you had mentioned at the top of this topic. You know, I very much doubt - unless interim Chief Diaz actually takes action, I really don't see the SPOG chief, the SPOG union head going anywhere. I mean the City Council and the Mayor's office and people who are otherwise, I would classify as pro-law enforcement, asking him to step down is one thing. But Mike Solan was elected by 70% of the SPOG membership, if I recall correctly . You know, people have - people seem fine with this kind of rhetoric coming from the head of the union.
Crystal Fincher: [00:25:03] Well, definitely - certainly a number of the police officers, the ones who elect the SPOG head -certainly are okay with it. Unfortunately, SPOG, you know, Solan is paid for by our tax dollars. He is on the public payroll and so there should be some public accountability for what he says. And certainly, he's poisoning the waters for the negotiations that are upcoming. He has continued to take belligerent , violent, mocking stances and using that kind of rhetoric. He has defended what has been objectively viewed and legally ruled to have been abusive, civil rights violating behavior - has made inappropriate jokes about violence committed by officers. And when you are in a position with so much power, there is a higher standard of accountability that should be instituted. We've talked about this, you know, broadly - just in the overall police accountability conversation, but my goodness, how much more clear and obvious do you need to make it? That there is a dangerous mindset that has taken hold with too many officers within SPD. And to see that these beliefs are being supported by so many officers, that this attitude and stance is not found to be objectionable, and that there have been officers that went to DC to be part of the Stop the Steal activities that Trump called for - we need massive changes.
And we saw with the [King County] Charter Amendment  vote that people, not just in Seattle but in a super-majority of cities in the county , want substantive reform. The unique thing is that even when you listen to police talk - they talk about calls that they don't feel that they are the appropriate response for. They talk frequently about not wanting to be social workers and that not being an effective place and way for them to intervene. Why don't we listen to that? But we do need to talk about what the structure and purpose is - what we actually want our officers doing. And if they're in a place where they are indoctrinated with a demonstrably false conspiracy theory that Trump won this election and are taking action, significant action, based on that - how is that influencing the communities that are also being blamed for the stealing? What kind of resentment are they harboring? That that is not only what they believe , but what they are so dedicated to, that they would invest their own resources. And how are they enacting and carrying that belief through their actions and interactions with everyday people. I don't like the implications of that. I think we've seen numerous examples of what happens, and we've seen the continuum of attitude and behavior that leads to people's civil rights being violated and the over policing, over-incarceration of poor communities and communities of color.
So thank you for listening to Hacks and Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM this Friday, January 15th, 2020. Our chief audio engineer at KVRU is Maurice Jones, Jr. The producer of Hacks and Wonks is Lisl Stadler. And our wonderful co-host today was local journalist and friend of the show, Ashley Archibald. You can find Ashley on Twitter @AshleyA_RC. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii. And now you can follow Hacks and Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Just type Hacks and Wonks into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live show and our mid-week show sent directly to your podcast stream. Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you next time.