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After #defundSPD speech in front of her home, Durkan calls for City Council to investigate, expel Sawant

Sawant during Sunday’s protest organized by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America

Speaking to a massive protest march in front of her Northeast Seattle home was apparently the final straw.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has escalated her ongoing political war with Kshama Sawant to a new level with a call for the Seattle City Council and council President Lorena Gonzalez to investigate end expel its longest-serving member.

“The City Council may choose to ignore and dismiss her actions, but I think that undermines public confidence in our institutions,” Durkan writes. “This letter requests that the Council exercise its Charter duties and fully investigate Councilmember Kshama Sawant and determine if action should be taken…”

The letter from Durkan’s office levels five allegations against Sawant including “using her official position to lead a march” to the mayor’s home Sunday night, Durkan says, “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,” Durkan writes.

UPDATE 3:05 PM: In a blistering response, Sawant says she is proud of her activism.

“Socialist Alternative and my Council office are proud to have marched, rallied, and organized with thousands of community members and activists in recent weeks to demand #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd, #BlackLivesMatter,” she writes. “Our movement is demanding racial and economic justice, long withheld by a pro-corporate political establishment, whose leader currently is Mayor Durkan.”

Sawant concludes her letter saying she does not take the attack “personally.”

“While her words are directed at me and my elected office, I don’t take it personally,” she writes. “In reality, this is an attack on working people’s movements, and everything we are fighting for, by a corporate politician desperately looking to distract from her failures of leadership and politically bankrupt administration.”

“Our movement will respond accordingly: we will fight with even greater unity and determination,” she concludes.

The full response from Sawant’s office is at the end of this post.


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“In addition, during or after Councilmember Sawant’s speech at that rally, her followers vandalized my home by spray-painting obscenities,” the mayor alleges.

CHS reported on the Sunday march for Black Lives Matter goals including a 50% cut to the Seattle Police budget organized by the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America and including Socialist Alternative, the Sawant-led political group that has helped the veteran politician build a deep and active support base in the city and beyond.

Durkan’s roster of allegations stretch back beyond the weekend. They begin with issues first reported in early 2019 of documents showing the power of the Socialist Alternative organization in Sawant’s City Hall dealings. “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,” the Durkan letter reads.

The mayor also attacks another Sawant action during the BLM protests when she provided access to Seattle City Hall for a massive demonstration to briefly occupy the building. “Our fight is not just against the police, our fight is for systemic change,” Sawant said that night during the rally inside the building. Sawant used “her official position” to give “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,” Durkan, a former federal prosecutor, alleges. “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.”

The mayor alleges Sawant has used her “official office and equipment to promote and raise money” for the Tax Amazon ballot initiative and to encourage people to “to illegally ‘occupy’ City property” at the East Precinct. The letter comes as city workers began removing some barriers Tuesday morning around the camp.

The letter dated June 30th now sits with Gonzalez office. We’ve asked for details on any response or next steps and will update when we hear back.

Sawant’s office has also yet to respond to the letter. Her office has overcome past complaints including a complaint dismissed last year by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Committee over the Socialist Alternative influence allegations. She also faced a similar complaint earlier this year over the Tax Amazon initiative.

Sawant is in the midst of her third term leading District 3 serving Capitol Hill and the Central District on the council. The Socialist Alternative incumbent posted another victory for the movement last fall as Sawant overcame historic spending by the business community and large companies like Amazon and Expedia to unseat progressive candidates in Seattle. “Our movement has won our socialist office for working people,” she said. “The election results are a repudiation of the billionaire class…and the relentless attacks and lies…and working people have stood up and said Seattle is not for sale!,” Sawant said in her victory speech.

A copy of the Durkan letter is below.

UPDATE 3:05 PM: Here is the full response from Sawant’s office:


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CiaoJenny
CiaoJenny
4 months ago

This reminds me of Trump’s letters to media to avoid dealing with reality. Not everyone who was at the march for Charleena Lyles was there because of Sawant. So, does the Mayor have proof it was a Sawant acolyte who “violated” the sanctity of her fence? Or is the mayor – who was perfectly fine gassing an entire neighborhood for a week and lying about it – going to start lying about this as well?

Nora
Nora
4 months ago
Reply to  CiaoJenny

Mayor Durkan took office on November 28, 2017. Charleena Lyles was not killed on her watch.

Paul
Paul
4 months ago

It would benefit so many people and different communities within D3 for the council to expel her.

C Doom
C Doom
4 months ago

Sawant won D3 with 51% of the vote, after Amazon’s idiotic funding to Orion got publicized 2 weekends before the election, and DON’T LET AMAZON BUY CITY HALL posters blanketed Broadway Ave, 12th, Pike and Pine. Up until then, Orion had been leading by as much as 58% in early voting.

Without the “October Surprise” Amazon mistake (or tbh, Orion’s non-strong response to it) Sawant may well have been defeated.

Her followers love to believe they have a solid mandate. They do not. 51% on a late-breaking fluke/mistake by Orion and Amazon does not equal unbeatable or resounding support for Sawant.

democracy is dying
democracy is dying
4 months ago
Reply to  C Doom

CM Sawant won, Orion lost. IT doesn’t matter if the margin was 1 vote or 1 million. That’s how democracy works. DEAL WITH IT.

democracy is dying
democracy is dying
4 months ago

Attempting to eliminate a democratically elected CM because they disagree with your ideology is a fascist move plain and simple.

Adam
Adam
4 months ago

Sawant’s irresponsible behavior (for many years) goes beyond just ideology.

Sadly, this move will just further her persecution complex and endear her even more to her followers.

She’s literally the left version of Donald Trump. She was rocking his playbook years before he even got into politics. Maybe he studied her.

Nora
Nora
4 months ago

Yet Sawant is trying to unseat the mayor, which will mean Gonzalez becomes mayor. Convenient, eh?

Nora
Nora
4 months ago

So the neighborhood was about to finally get its streets back and Sawant puts out a call to action to occupy the precinct. Then the people camping in front of the precinct doubles overnight. Thank your CM for the fact that this bullshit wont be over any time soon. And thank CM Sawant for co-opting a movement and calling it her own (once again), for political purposes, and regardless of the loss of life.