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June 7, 2012 at 8:12 AM

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Seattle police: We're not racist!

Corrected version

Seattle is now arguing that in an incident where a Seattle police officer threatened to "beat the (expletive) Mexican piss" out of a Latino robbery suspect, the phrase "Mexican piss" was not discriminatory. The remark had "no appreciable discriminatory effect," the city said in court filings, as reported in this story by Seattle Times reporters Mike Carter and Steve Miletich.

The city said the remark was intended to control the suspect.

In other words, we're not racist!

It's hard to swallow that the city and police department are serious about building a strong relationship with communities of color after the Department of Justice found that the police department routinely used excessive force, and raised serious concerns about discrimination.

Police should not be surprised when they're met with more hostile crowds at the scene of a crime. That has happened twice when police arrived to investigate two shooting deaths in South Seattle. The tragedy is that blockading the police prevents victims from receiving medical attention when seconds mattered.

This is turning into a column. I'll be working on it today. Your thoughts? Feel free to share in comments below, email me at or tweet me @sharonpianchan

Update 12:29 p.m.:

A colleague here in the newsroom pointed out that the Department of Justice found strong, but inconclusive evidence of biased policing. Good point.

He also wanted to point out it's not fair to say the anger toward the police is a direct result of distrust of the SPD. Sometimes anger runs high, and he said witnesses eventually gave tips to the police that led to the arrest of a suspect.

Another good point. Probably none of the people in those crowds came out and said they pushed police back because of a story they read about the DOJ.

But it's still troubling to hear that the reaction to police showing up is "Go away" instead of "We're glad you're here." I just spoke to Doug Honig, communications director for ACLU Washington, who said, "It's absolutely the right connection to be made. ... The issue has become very high profile and a real spotlight has been shined on this issue."

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this. Is the conflict between the DOJ and police department something that communities of color are thinking about in their everyday interaction with police?

Information in this article, originally published at 8:12 a.m. on June 7, 2012, was corrected at 4:24 p.m. on June 7, 2012. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the Department of Justice found the department was biased against minorities.

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