Seattle protest demands Justice for Jaahnavi Kandula
Seattle, WA – On September 14, over 200 people came to an emergency rally and march organized by the Seattle Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (SAARPR) to fight for justice following the murder of Jaahnavi Kandula by Kevin Dave, an officer in the Seattle Police Department.
On January 23, Jaahnavi Kandula, a 23-year-old graduate student from India attending Northeastern University, tragically lost her life at the hands of SPD officer Kevin Dave. Dave was driving 74 miles per hour in a 25 zone without using his continuous sirens. Kandula was using the crosswalk on Dexter Avenue and Thomas Street when Dave's vehicle struck her, propelling her over 100 feet away, ultimately killing her.
Dave was one of six officers responding to a call about an overdose, a situation that did not necessitate police intervention. Kandula's death was not only senseless but also marked by cruelty. On Monday, September 11, body cam footage of a conversation between two other SPD officers – Daniel Auderer and Mike Solan – was released In the video, Auderer can be heard laughing, saying “Just write a check – $11,000. She was 26 [sic] anyway, she had limited value.” This clip is from the night of Kandula’s murder, after Auderer had responded to the incident.
The release of this footage is what sparked this rally. “This happened in January and the body cam footage is just now being released?” Kyla Carrillo said, frustrated by the police and the system. They were one of the many people gathered at the rally to mourn Kandula’s death and demand accountability from the city. Carrillo, along with SAARPR and other activists, led the group in chants such as “Justice for Jaahnavi,” “Convict Kevin Dave” and “Fire Mike Solan.”
“This is something that needs to be ended, these police officers need to be held accountable for their actions and for their words,” Kane Fox, a local indigenous activist said, echoing a sentiment shared by many at the rally. “To say her life had no value or little value is completely deplorable and unacceptable.” The obvious racism and misogyny of the police’s behavior was not lost on Fox, who went on to say, “Just say you’re racist with your whole chest.”
Community members, including organizers from SAARPR, the Progressive Student Union, and The Freedom Road Socialist Organization, recognized the need for community control of the police in speeches both before and after the rally. In his speech, Jonathan Toledo stated, “What we need is CPAC – which stands for a Civilian Police Accountability Council. With this we would not be forced to beg and rally to have justice. We could get democratic control for everyone and thus convict these individuals on our own!”
After the rally, people marched to the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct, filling the streets with chants of “Say her name! Jaahnavi Kandula!” and “Jail killer cops.” Outside the precinct, people wrote chalk messages exposing the police officers’ salaries – describing how much they are being paid to terrorize and kill immigrants, women, and people of color like Kandula. According to the latest salary data from the City of Seattle, Dave makes $95,380 a year at least.
“You are supposed to protect us and you're not, you're killing us! You're taking away our lives time and time again!” Carrillo said, talking about both the Seattle police, and police in the U.S. in general. “People come here because they want a better life, and then the cops take it. And all I can do is cry, because this girl’s life was taken.”