Kirkland Teen Center Incident Update

Published: November 15, 2019, at 5:24 p.m. PT

Last updated: November 16, 2019, at 8:22 a.m. PT

On Wednesday, November 13 we held a press conference to speak out about intense and traumatic police force on our staff and two teens at our Kirkland Union Building (KTUB). Thank you to everyone who has reached out to support our request of the City of Kirkland to quickly complete their investigation and implement appropriate disciplinary action and increased training for the police officers. We also appreciate your questions, expressions of concern, and request for additional information.

We wanted to clarify and share the following information. We recognize that any incident can have multiple perspectives, and we encourage continued dialogue with the goal of a safer, more respectful community for all. It is through open dialogue, even on tough topics, that we can be better as a community.

Our History and Values

The Y of Greater Seattle has a 145 year history serving youth and others in the Greater Seattle area, and we care about the safety and wellbeing of our staff, the youth we serve, and everyone who enters our doors. We pride ourselves in creating a welcoming, respectful, caring environment where everyone can realize their full potential, achieve their goals, and know they belong. We advocate for ALL people and have a long history of supporting all communities – especially marginalized communities.

We are advocates for the safety, wellbeing, and respect for all in our community, especially youth, and when compromised, we feel we must speak up for the community.

Our Relationship with Law Enforcement

We are not anti-police. We respect and appreciate law enforcement including Kirkland police officers. The job of law enforcement is not easy, and we are most appreciative for their hard work, dedication, and sacrifice for preserving safety and order in our community.

We are committed to building positive working relationships with community agencies, including law enforcement. We pride ourselves in having good working relations with law enforcement in all communities that we serve. We do not take issue with police officers doing their job.

Our Concerns from the September 5 KTUB Incident

We are concerned with the behavior of the police in KTUB on September 5, including:

  • Pushing and cursing at the Y Center Director
  • Pointing a Taser at a teen who was not associated with the arrest
  • The manner in which a 14-year-old was detained

This incident left our staff and youth frightened. The experience could have been different.

Corrections on Misinformation

  • We did not call 911 or police officers to KTUB on September 5. Calls were made by members in the community.
  • We do not condone violence or crime. As a youth serving organization, we know that at times youth will make bad decisions, but when they do we believe this is an opportunity to intervene and redirect them while holding them accountable. We question whether wrongdoing by a teen justifies the use of intense and traumatic force especially in a teen safe place where two armed police officers are present. We don’t believe that force and threats against a teen bystander and the Y Center Director are justifiable.
  • We do not have video footage from the three seconds before the takedown of the 14-year-old teen between the music studio and main hallway. Our staff eyewitness accounts indicate that the officer grabbed the teen without explanation, without issuing an instruction, and without any dialogue with the teen.
  • We can’t speak to the motivation of the officers involved. We can call attention to the fact that the officers interacted with about a dozen people in KTUB and only acted aggressively toward the teen, our Center Director, and another bystander teen – three African American males. Y staff who were present in the facility commented that the police were respectful to everyone except the African-American males. Prior to leaving KTUB, the non-detaining police officer apologized to the Center Director for the behavior of his co-officer.

What We Want from the City

We welcome police officers visits to our facility to build relationships with our staff and youth we serve. However, pushing and cursing at our Center Director, pointing a Taser at a teen who was not associated with the arrest, and the way the 14-year-old was detained highly concerns us. The behavior by the police officer should be fully investigated, disciplinary action should be taken, and a change of protocols and training should be instituted.

We have been cooperative with the City of Kirkland, we provided our video footage as quickly as we could, and we will continue to cooperate.

Thank You

Thank you again for your support and ongoing dialogue. We remain open to having a collaborative forum to foster stronger relationships with the community and law enforcement.