Seattle Democratic Mayor Jenny Durkan previously defended the left-wing activists who camped out in a so-called “autonomous zone” for a couple of weeks, saying that they were having a “summer of love.” Durkan’s rhetoric about the activists, including a councilwoman who’s helping lead them, changed dramatically after they showed up to her home to “protest.”
Durkan had announced last week that Seattle was going to begin dismantling the “CHOP” zone after multiple acts of violence broke out in the police-free area, including multiple shootings.
After Durkan announced that the area would be getting closed down, far-left Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant reportedly led a protest at Durkan’s home, the address of which is confidential due to security concerns.
The mayor’s office initially responded by releasing the following statement at the start of the week:
Seattle has a long tradition of peaceful protest and advocacy for progressive change, and Mayor Durkan strongly supports those rights. Mayor Durkan will continue to listen to leaders in Seattle’s Black community. She is working hard to translate the calls for change into real, tangible systemic changes to policing and all the other systems needed for strong and healthy communities. She has prioritized these as Mayor, with investments in housing, education, youth opportunity, and economic equity. She proposes investing an additional $100 million into the Black community.
Mayor Durkan and her family are in the state program to keep their address confidential because of the death threats mostly related to her work as Seattle’s U.S. Attorney under President Obama. Instead of working to make true change, Councilmember Sawant continues to choose political stunts. Tonight she did so without regard for the safety of the Mayor and her family. The Mayor was not even home — she was working at City Hall. Seattle can and should peacefully demonstrate but should not put families and children at risk.
On Tuesday night, Durkan’s office released a letter she sent to Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González in which she called for an investigation into Sawant and suggested that Sawant needed to be expelled from the city council. Durkan called for an investigation into the following incidents:
- Relinquishing authority of her office and disregarding City employment and hiring rules. In Councilmember Sawant’s case the media has uncovered documents suggesting that she may have effectively delegated decisions regarding hiring and termination of City employees to an outside political organization. According to the documents, the National Executive Committee and the Seattle Executive Committee of the Socialist Alternative party had authority over staffing decisions for the City Council office. At least one employee was allegedly fired as the result of a decision of the Executive Committee of this political organization, and that employee protested that the firing was the result of political retaliation.
- Using her official office and equipment to promote and raise money for a ballot initiative (or other electioneering), and for failing to comply with public disclosure of all funds raised and spent in those activities including a website registered to her husband and promoted by Councilmember Sawant. While the SEEC (and possibly the PDC) continues to investigate, I believe it is imperative that Council conduct its own inquiry. This is important for public confidence and because it could also impact Council’s work on proposed related revenue ordinances pending before Council, as one is explicitly tied to the proposed ballot initiative. The public has a right to know that public resources of the Council are not being used in violation of campaign and ethics laws.
- Using her official position, gave access to City facilities to admit hundreds of individuals at night into City Hall when it was closed to the public because of COVID-19 and failing to follow the City’s COVID-19 precautions for the visitors. Her actions put the safety of individuals and City workers at risk, and it led to janitorial staff making complaints about the incident because of safety concerns.
- Using her official position and possibly staff to encourage attendants at a rally she led on June 28, 2020 to illegally “occupy” City property, the East Precinct, at a time the City has been trying to de-escalate the situation and ask individuals to depart because of violence in the area. Days earlier, members of the Black community had asked that this facility be restored as an active police facility, particularly in light of the fact it was created at the request of the Black community by actions of former Councilmember Sam Smith to serve the Central District. We have had a series of devastating gun violence around this location, including early yesterday morning on Capitol Hill.
- Using her official position to lead a march to my home, despite the fact that it was publicly known I was not there, and she and organizers knew that my address was protected under the state confidentiality program because of threats against me due largely to my work as U.S. Attorney. All of us have joined hundreds of demonstrations across the City, but Councilmember Sawant and her followers chose to do so with reckless disregard of the safety of my family and children. In addition, during or after Councilmember Sawant’s speech at that rally, her followers vandalized my home by spray-painting obscenities.
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