The Blogful of Salt

Subject: not confirming Craig Meidl

by pjals Monday, Aug 22, 2016 | 10:10am | Comment on this

Here is the email PJALS Director Liz Moore sent to city council members. You can send your own message to

Good morning. I am on a camping trip with my family and will not be at city council tonight, so I am sharing my thoughts from beside the lake.

I have been watching correspondence shared by others and reading news stories while out of town.

I was especially struck by Mary Ann Murphy sharing that she, as the chair of the police leadership advisory committee, agreed with other members that if the right candidate was not found, the search would need to be restarted.

Unfortunately, I think that is the situation we are in.

One reason this has taken a great deal of thought for me is that it is hard to evaluate candidates who do not sit beside other candidates and answer the same questions. As city council members, that is certainly not your doing, but it does reflect the bad situation Mayor Condon has put us all in. I appreciate very much your commitment to community process and the two events that you held.

After attending the first Forum, before I left town to attend a conference on police accountability, I found myself thinking about Craig Meidl: “well, it could be worse.” He seems authentic and comfortable with himself. But then I said to myself, Spokane doesn’t just deserve something that could be worse.

It was my feeling that the police leadership advisory committee did a very good job pulling together input from so many community members about what we want in our next police chief. I reread parts of that set of recommendations , as I imagine you have leading up to this decision. One place where Meidl does not meet those is in terms of demonstrated leadership on racial equity. This is so critical in our community and other communities around the country. We really need someone who can lead on racial equity in the police department’s practices and policies and in the criminal justice system. I do not see readiness nor demonstrated skill in this area from Meidl.

At the forum I attended, he had the opportunity to answer a question on this topic and spoke of how one of his black friends taught him the importance of acknowledging racist history in this country. Meidl seemed very sincere in articulating this learning moment he had experienced. I certainly respect that very much and hope that all of us white people will be authentic and sincere and seek out learning moments continuously. However, and I say this with great appreciation for every learning moment, that is not the kind of learning moment that we need our next police chief to be at. We need our next police chief to have a firm  and  complex understanding of historical racism and current structural and systemic racism and other oppressions that intersect with policing.

Also, it did seem to me that he used his sincere religious beliefs and practices to give simplistic answers and to sidestep legitimate and important questions about process. I agree with Tim Connor that he should not have accepted the position outside a process. We need a police chief with excellent judgement and who can say no to the mayor when appropriate.

And of course, I am very troubled by his involvement in support for officer Karl Thompson. I do not find his answers about his email to other officers sufficient to address the concerns that it very reasonably raises. And, although I can understand wanting to help the family of a colleague, I am very very disturbed by his and his wife’s contributions to Karl Thompson family.

And although he spoke to having learned about unintended consequences, I do not feel that he understands, still, the significance of the closed-ranks approach that officers in that department took. This is the most disturbing of all.

So I feel that the only appropriate thing is to ask you not to confirm him as chief. I am not excited about asking you that or about the processes that will need to follow. But it is the only course of action that seems responsible at this time. Thank you very much for all of the thought that you have put into your decision.

Liz Moore, PJALS

Engagement not Theater

by pjals Friday, Aug 5, 2016 | 4:16pm | One comment.

PJALS director Liz Moore sent this message to Spokane City Council members on August 4. As of August 5, Council President Ben Stuckart and Council Members Breean Beggs, Karen Stratton, and Lori Kinnear have responded with a commitment that there is not a pre-decision to confirm Meidl. The City Council is holding two forums for community members to ask questions of Meidl: 

Thursday, August 11th 6-8pm West Central Community Center
Wednesday, August 17th 6-8pm East Central Community Center


subject: public process re appointment of SPD Chief

Hello Council Members,

 I know that many of you share widespread community concern and anger about Mayor Condon’s actions in appointing Craig Meidl as the new SPD Chief. I want to share with you concern and anger on behalf of the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane.
We encouraged PJALS members to participate in Police Leadership Advisory Committee sessions in December. We organized and co-sponsored a Community Forum on Police Leadership which included 10 organizations and about 70 people, sharing their concerns and vision for what we need in a police chief with the PLAC in January. We encouraged PJALS member and partner participation in the community meeting around Mayor Condon’s appointment of Mr. McDevitt, sharing concerns focusing on Mayor Condon’s disregard of the PLAC recommendations released just a short time before McDevitt’s appointment in February. I represented PJALS in very frustrating meetings with the DOJ mediators in March.  I attempted to be part of the community interviews held behind closed doors with the two finalists for Chief last month. We encouraged PJALS members and partners to submit questions and to attend the hour of pre-screened and 2-minute responses with the finalists, and I spent time that evening asking my own questions of Mr. Lehner as well. I followed that up with a message to the Mayor requesting further public engagement before a decision was reached.
So it was with very great frustration that we learned that Mayor Condon appointed Craig Meidl, who had not applied, who had not been interviewed, who in fact interviewed the applicants, who has faced no questions from community members as part of this process.
I understand you are considering creating community forum or interview processes with Craig Meidl prior to considering confirming him. I applaud your sense that community engagement is a vital component of filling this critical role at this critical time. I want to strongly ask you, however, not to create a theater experience instead of a real process — we’ve had enough of that.
Please only hold a community forum or interview process if you are actually considering not confirming him based on the documented results of that process. Please make clear how input will be recorded and used and how such a decision would be reached.
Out of respect for PJALS members and partners and the values we hold, PJALS will not encourage participation in meaningless processes that suck our time, energy, and attention and yield nothing but an insulting lack of regard for everyday people in our community.
Thank you,

Liz Moore
Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane

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Summer Gathering for Police Accountability in Portland

by pjals Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016 | 1:13pm | One comment.

Registration is now open: Click here to register!

For two years now, PJALS has been networking and collaborating with Portland’s NAACP and Seattle’s Mothers for Police Accountability to form the Northwest Community Coalition for Police Accountability In order to strengthen our regional solidarity and develop a long-term, strategic framework, a Summer Gathering of activists will held in Portland at Portland State University on Aug. 12-13, a Friday and Saturday.

We hope a huge Spokane contingency will be there. People like you and your friends and allies. Read more »

Beyond Memorial Day

by pjals Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016 | 2:14pm | Comment on this
Rusty Nelson

Rusty Nelson

This is not for Memorial Day, but it’s being written over Memorial Day weekend, a time I’m at odds with many neighbors, extended family members, fellow veterans and fellow people of faith. In spite of solidarity in our anti-war community, I feel hostile and oppressed when the dominant culture prattles on about “ultimate sacrifice” and other fabricated concepts used to enhance the fantasy that the Pentagon is the author and finisher of our freedom, that every flag-draped corpse represents the best America has to offer, that dying in a murderous effort against another culture is a sacred gift to humanity. Read more »

Being A Part of this Selfless Fight for Justice

by pjals Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

tylerWhen I began my internship at PJALS back in February I remember how ambitious and eager I was to create change and create new ways of doing things. I was excited to see what we could do and how we could create a new communications strategy. This was all before I had even started to really get to know and understand the organization well. At this time as I reflect on my overall time at the organization this one aspect that I will take away and know that I have grown from. I realize know how foolish that approach may have been, and I am grateful for the invaluable experience that I have gained from it. Among many of the new skills that I have gained in my time here at PJALS is how to work and communicate effectively in a diverse team environment. Read more »

I Can Make A Difference

by pjals Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

As my year as an intern student here at PJALS comes to a close, I have come to notice how my time here has impacted my life on how I view the world and how I have learned and developed skills on how to become a social change agent and community organizer.

CassandraI had the opportunity of learning social work at the mezzo and macro levels and have valued every experience within them. I worked on policy issues such as the Fair Chance Hiring Act and helped with the beginning stages for the Immigration Initiative that will be on the November 2017 ballot. Working on these two issues gave me confidence and hope for a better future even when it seems that moving to the next steps will take time, I know that eventually it will get there! I know that PJALS has given me a voice to make a difference and I have never questioned because I do believe that I have made a difference in all the work that I have done. Read more »

Creating Awareness

by pjals Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

JessicaThrough the last nine months the Peace and Justice Action Committee, “PJAC” has made an effort to provide awareness among high school students about the cons of joining the military, while providing alternatives to consider before enlisting. On May 12, 2016 “Truth in Recruitment” went out to John R. Rogers High School as a last effort to provide awareness before summer break. The three interns Cassandra, Monce, and Jessica handed out 30 fliers and had a few short conversations with intrigued high schoolers. The fliers consisted of providing information to high school students regarding “10 things to consider before enlisting.” As an intern at PJALS it was an eye opener to see that most of the students would ignore our presence and avoid grabbing a flier; yet, those 30 students who did grab a flier seemed to be reading the paper as they walked to their destination. Read more »

I Had so Much Fun

by Monce Rodriguez Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016 | 2:14pm | Comment on this

MonceSummer is just around the corner and the time here at PJALS went by so quick. I remember the first day at PJALS as an intern I didn’t know what to expect. I was just excited about the thing we were working on, but I had no clue how to start. What I worked on in my time at PJALS was with the Young Activist Leaders Program (YALP), Truth in Recruitment and with the Spokane Police Accountability and Reform Coalition (SPARC). Read more »