Activist alliances in Seattle begin to fracture

The Black Brilliance Research Project (BBR), announced that it has “decided to part ways with King County Equity Now (KCEN)," according to a post written by Shaun Glaze, co-lead researcher for BBR and formerly the lead researcher for KCEN.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

Alliances in Seattle’s activist class appear to be fracturing. Following the revelation in December that the Seattle City Council was using a loophole to circumvent the bidding process and appropriated 3 million dollars to "non-profit" organizations that were part of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), two of the groups benefiting from the funds have decided to part ways.

The money appeared to be more of a political payoff to groups involved in the riots and armed occupation of the city, rather than an investment in the community.

The Black Brilliance Research Project (BBR), announced that it has “decided to part ways with King County Equity Now (KCEN)," according to a post written by Shaun Glaze, co-lead researcher for BBR and formerly the lead researcher for KCEN.

Tensions between the organizations have been rumored for some time. According to the post, KCEN, which was originally a coalition of activist organizations, a "began to move away from the coalition model" which led to their success in lobbying the Seattle City Council to defund the Seattle Police Department and use the money for "community programs."

According to the post, "the community partnership dynamic changed, and this created obstacles and barriers to the research. At heart, this is what has led us away from having KCEN be charged with facilitating the research to the finish line."

The letter claims that KCEN’s "three-person senior leadership team and the board that would not hold the senior leadership accountable," and that "the environment created by KCEN senior leadership no longer facilitates doing the work in an accountable, well-stewarded way."

According to SCC Insight, the city council awarded the entire $3 million in a single contract to King County Equity Now (KCEN) through the office of Socialist Council Member Tammy Morales. KCEN "…has lobbied the Council since early summer to defund SPD and use the savings to invest in community-led programs. But there was a snag: KCEN is not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and thus the Council could not bypass the bidding process to give them the contract. KCEN claims that it is a 501(c)(4) organization and that it has applied for 501(c)(3) status (it has registered with the State of Washington as a nonprofit conforming with 501(c)(3) rules); as of this writing the IRS's web site for looking up section-501 nonprofits does not list KCEN as either…"

SCC Insight continued that "The Council solved its contracting problem by enlisting Freedom Project, a Seattle-based 501(c)(3) with an annual budget of around $250,000, as a "fiscal agent" to be the official contractor, who will in turn subcontract all the research work to KCEN…So while technically legal, in principle the Council is exploiting a legal loophole in order to award a $3 million contract directly to an organization that doesn't meet the requirements for bypassing the bidding requirements."

The socialist council member appeared to be taken by surprise by the development in a statement to SCC Insight. "My office was made aware of a letter circulating from the Black Brilliance project.  I haven’t yet been briefed by my staff but I intend to get up-to-speed immediately and make contact with the stakeholders as we ensure that this vital research work is seen to completion to inform the upcoming participatory budgeting process.  While I learn more about the detailed grievances, the work itself remains critically important to inform policies that impact Black and Brown communities."

In her attempt to pacify groups like KCEN during the riots against the Seattle Police Department and the CHAZ, Mayor Jenny Durkan made promises of funding programs and public buildings that would be turned over "to the community."

KCEN advocates for "Pay the Fee," where Seattle businesses, typically in the Central District, are supposed to pay King County Equity Now a fee for the privilege of doing business there.

Ian Eisenberg owner of Uncle Ike's pot shops told The Post Millennial regarding the riots that regularly vandalize his stores that "The groups that are encouraging this in Seattle, they're getting paid. They are getting money and property from the city. It's working so why wouldn't they consider doing it, I've been told so many times that if I gave money like a few years ago to the Black Book Club, my problems would go away. In other cities it is just called extortion."

Nikkita Oliver of the People's Party and a former mayoral candidate, is one of the leaders of KCEN. Oliver heavily advocated for Morales during her election campaign and has and targeted Eisenberg. Oliver and Morales have advocated for defunding the police and giving the money to community groups while also advocating for less prisons and releasing criminals.

Many of the other groups in the coalition have broken or non- functioning URLs, locations in apartments, are non-existent in any records or have the same people in leadership while some are not even in King County, let alone Seattle and yet millions of dollars of tax payer money is being given to these groups. Many are alleging corruption, political payoffs and laundering of tax payer money.

Later in December, Washington State Democrat Governor Jay Inslee announced a series of budget proposals to spend millions of dollars to address "systemic racism" in a state that has been controlled by Democrats for decades. Some of the beneficiary organizations are in the KCEN coalition and were also part of the CHAZ.


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