Week in Review: January 15, 2021 - with Ashley Archibald

Week in Review: January 15, 2021 - with Ashley Archibald

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.

Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s co-host, Ashley Archibald, at @AshleyA_RC. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.

Articles Referenced:

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 [6] 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.