The city of Seattle has hired a Black Lives Matter activist and convicted ex-pimp to be its "Street Czar," paying him $12,500 a month for a year to come up with "alternatives to policing."
What are the details?
Andrè Taylor was once sentenced to more than five years in prison for illegally working as an escort hustler in Las Vegas (he ended up only serving one year) and was featured in the 2000 documentary, "American Pimp." He also came to Seattle in 2016 vowing to "go to war" after his brother, Che Taylor, was killed by police.
Now Taylor and his organization, Not This Time, have been bankrolled by the city at $150,000 over the next 12 months to provide "community de-escalation services."
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The contract, published for the first time this week by news website PubliCola, provides Taylor's organization office space in the city's Municipal Tower and requests Taylor's help "provid[ing] recommendations to the City on de-escalation, community engagement, and alternatives to policing."
Under the agreement, which was reportedly Taylor's idea, Not This Time will also work toward the "urgent de-escalation of conflict and violence between the police and the community assembling in the Capitol Hill neighborhood."
The Seattle Times noted that the contract came just one year after Not This Time was paid $100,000 by the city to host a speaker series called "Conversations with the Streets."
According to the Seattle Times, Taylor's public presence during protests and riots in Seattle has evolved considerably over the last several months. He reportedly led one of the very first rallies in Seattle in the immediate aftermath of the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, and appeared at a news conference beside Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) on the same day.
Later, while publicly disavowing the Capitol Hill Organized Protest, he attempted to broker a deal between CHOP protesters and the mayor, insisting that the protesters demand money in return for leaving the area.
"Don't just leave. Leave with something," he told a small group of protesters in a recorded conversation. "Let me make that happen for you, and then I can bring that back to you. I don't know, we'll ask for $2 million. They might give us $1 million, but let's ask for it."
The paper reported that the activists eventually rejected his advice, one saying that the money grab felt "off."
Taylor then reportedly drew ire from CHOP protesters when he appeared at a news conference with the mayor on June 22 telling them to shut down CHOP — the same day he was offered a six-figure contract by the city.
Kelsey Nyland, a spokesperson for Durkan, said, "the City sought a contract with Not This Time because of our existing working partnership ... but also because of the organization's lived experience with the criminal legal system, and their history of successful advocacy and activism on issues of policing and dismantling systemic racism."
Nyland added that the city is spending millions this year on similar contracts with various other groups.
"Not too many people can go talk to gangbangers in their territory, and then go talk to the government in their territory," Taylor said of the contract.