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Mayor Harrell and City Representatives Meet with Regional South Asian Community Leaders 

Seattle – Today, Mayor Bruce Harrell, Councilmember Lisa Herbold, Seattle Police Department (SPD) Chief Adrian Z. Diaz, and City representatives met with leaders and organizations representing the South Asian community. Joined by over two dozen regional community leaders including State Representative Vandana Slatter and members of more than fifteen different community organizations, Mayor Harrell and City leaders discussed the tragic death of Jaahnavi Kandula and reiterated their commitment to creating a Seattle where every neighbor feels safe, heard, and respected. 

“Effective public safety is built on trust between City government and the communities we serve. When that trust is breached, it is the City’s obligation to do the work necessary to restore and rebuild it,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell. “The City and SPD owe it to our residents and neighbors – especially communities of color, immigrants, those who haven’t always had a seat at the table – not just to promise them they are valued and welcome, but to prove it, day in and day out through our actions and services.” 

Mayor Harrell continued, “I thank this set of community leaders for their time and willingness to engage in dialogue, sharing their feelings, experiences, and perspectives. Accountability, honesty, and continuous growth – today’s conversation was rooted in these principles, recognizing rightful outrage caused by recent events and beginning a conversation on moving forward together. For real healing and meaningful progress, we must continue these kinds of conversations and deliver on our shared values.” 

“The South Asian community and I grieve for Jaahnavi and are in shock over the lack of empathy and deeply offensive remarks regarding a young woman’s life and potential,” said State Representative Vandana Slatter. “Jaahnavi is a part of our community, and her story is reflected in every one of us. It is time for swift and accountable action, not apathy, so that Jaahnavi’s family can have justice and the community can begin the long journey to rebuilding trust.” 

“On behalf of the City of Seattle I’m so sorry for the appalling conversation, devaluing human life, between two officers whose job it is to be guardians of all members of our community,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold. “This failure, reflected now on the global stage, must not stand as representative of the Seattle we all love. To restore trust, begin to heal, and achieve justice for Jaahnavi, we must act. I heard community leaders today call for accountability for the officer whose actions resulted in tragic death and the officers who spoke so callously about her death. I heard a call for officer training in empathy, support for Jaahnavi’s family, pedestrian safety investments, and support for additional Seattle’s services to our immigrant community. I pledge to carry forward this call to action.” 

“UTSAV thanks Mayor Harrell and Chief Diaz for meeting with South Asian community,” said Arun Sharma, Director, UTSAV. “It was a much-needed meeting to start the healing process. It is now important to ensure we keep the city and the community engaged and to keep each other accountable. It is time to change the culture to be more inclusive of all communities.” 

“The Indian American Community Services (IACSWA) has shared our concerns with the City of Seattle and the Mayor’s Office,” said Lalita Uppala, Executive Director, Indian American Community Services. “We want to ensure that the accountability measures that IACS and the community have asked for are being acted upon to address the harm and trust that some officers of the SPD have caused during the investigation of Ms. Jaahnavi Kandula as well as the unacceptable and reckless comments made by Officer Auderer about her death.” 

Uppala continued, “We want justice for Jaahnavi and demand that the SPD officers show respect for the lives and dignity of all marginalized communities particularly the Black, Indigenous, Latino, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Muslim, Asian and all people of color, the LGBTQ+, the unhoused, those with challenges in behavioral health, special needs and disabilities. In order to heal and move forward collectively it is critical that there is full transparency as well as active engagement with the community in the accountability process.” 

“We are committed to working with our community and healing through open and honest conversations,” said SPD Chief Adrian Z. Diaz. “I remain dedicated to this work and we are moving our department towards a relational policing model that brings communities together.” 

“My sincere condolences go out to Jaahnavi Kandula’s family, as well as the Indian American and global community,” said Director Hamdi Mohamed, Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs. “Today, we’ve had the honor of hearing from various community members who shared their diverse viewpoints and voices with us. Our city must be free from hatred and xenophobia, and we must continue to take actionable steps forward. Our office is here to work alongside the community members we heard from today, supporting and lifting up their many requests.” 

Mayor Harrell wrote to the family of Jaahnavi Kandula to express support after comments made by an SPD officer were captured on body worn video. An Office of Police Accountability investigation is ongoing related to those comments.