Seattle, WA – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s “summer of love” came to an abrupt end when hundreds of protesters showed up at her home on Sunday.
Durkan’s address was kept hidden as a security measure because of her time spent as U.S. Attorney for Seattle, but that didn’t stop protesters from finding her home inside a gated enclave and breaking down the gate on June 28, KING reported.
“We came down to Jenny Durkan’s mansion to bring the demands of the movement and of the families who have been impacted by police violence to her doorstep as she seems to not be able to hear our demands any other way,” a protester told reporters.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant was front and center at the protest in front of the mayor’s house, using a megaphone to reiterate the demands of protesters occupying six blocks around the East Precinct and calling for Durkan’s resignation, KING reported.
The mayor wasn’t home during the protest, but she was furious about it anyway.
She issued a statement shortly after it happened that called out Sawant for participating in the occupation of her neighborhood, KING reported.
“Seattle has a long tradition of peaceful protest and advocacy for progressive change, and Mayor Durkan strongly supports those rights,” the statement read. “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.”
However, when it came to protesters on her own front lawn, Durkan wasn’t as enthusiastic.
“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,” the statement continued. “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.”
Then the mayor took her outrage a step farther and sent a letter to the president of the Seattle City Council on Tuesday asking for a full investigation of the offending councilwoman that would determine if Sawant should be penalized for a host of recent actions.
“As leaders of the City, it is incumbent upon all of us to bring people together in one of the City’s most challenging times,” Durkan wrote. “However, I have deep concerns about the continued actions of a Councilmember that I am requesting that you and the Council exercise your duties as described below. I completely respect that any of us may disagree on policy issues, sometimes strongly. Disagreements on policy contribute to a robust public debate. However, policy disagreements do not justify a Councilmember who potentially uses their position in violation of law or who recklessly undermines the safety of others, all for political theatre.”
“Article IV, Section 4 provides the Council may punish or expel a member for disorderly or otherwise contemptuous behavior,” the letter continued. “Some of these violations may be additional violations of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, but all of these falls within City Council’s purview. The City Council may choose to ignore and dismiss her actions, but I think that undermines public confidence in our institutions.”
Then Durkan’s letter accused Sawant of a far more egregious crime than protesting on her front lawn in the letter.
“This letter requests that the Council exercise its Charter duties and fully investigate Councilmember Kshama Sawant and determine if action should be taken for the following: Relinquishing authority of her office and disregarding City employment and hiring rules,” the mayor’s statement read. “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,” the mayor asserted. “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.”
@MayorJenny has yet to address the latest #chopshooting which left 1 teen dead and another in critical condition. Now she chooses to call out Kshama Sawant protesting at her house occupying City Hall and encouraging #CHOP https://t.co/wbH18axc0o
— Ari Hoffman (@thehoffather) June 30, 2020
When the protests first began in the Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP), formerly the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), the mayor referred to the hundreds of protesters who had barricaded off six blocks around the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct as a block party.
“We’ve got four blocks in Seattle that you just saw pictures of that is more like a block party atmosphere,” Durkan told CNN. “It’s not an armed takeover. It’s not a military junta. We will make sure that we can restore this. But we have block parties and the like in this part of Seattle all the time. It’s known for that.”
She shrugged off questions about how long the area would remain occupied by protesters.
“We could have the summer of love,” Durkan said.
Since that time, there have been six shootings inside the CHOP, with two fatalities, one of them a 16-year-old boy.
Three of the victims were juveniles.
Armed protesters guarding the barricades around the CHOP have refused to allow Seattle police access so they could clear the area for the Seattle Fire Department.
A large group of residents and business owners has sued the city and alleged the mayor allowed the occupation of the city to continue without interference despite the fact it was depriving them of the rights to their own properties.
The lawsuit alleged that protesters had threatened business owners with retaliation if any of them tried to remove the graffiti painted on their buildings, KING reported.
In one incident, neither police nor fire department personnel responded when looters broke into an auto shop located along the perimeter of the occupied zone.
More than a dozen apartment buildings and small businesses are a part of the suit.
The group said they wanted the city of Seattle held accountable for the deadly shootings, assaults, noise pollution, property damage, and ongoing violence it permitted to happen by allowing protesters to continue the occupation of their neighborhood, according to KING.
“The City’s policies have effectively authorized the actions of the CHOP participants,” the lawsuit read. “The City has communicated clearly to CHOP participants that they may indefinitely continue occupying the streets in the area, maintaining their barricades, and blocking traffic, all without interference from the City.”
The mayor and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best announced at a press conference on June 22 that they would be dismantling the city’s “autonomous zone” after the bloody weekend that left four people shot and one dead.
Durkan asked community leaders to spread the message that it was time to clear out to the people camping out in the six blocks surrounding the East Precinct, KOMO reported.
The mayor said she didn’t want to have to use police to tear down the CHOP, KOMO reported.
But actually shutting down the CHOP may be difficult to accomplish after the city banned police officers from possessing crowd-control weapons.
“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” the mayor announced, according to FOX News. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.”
The city council ban prohibits police officer possession of blast balls, “foam-tipped projectiles,” flash-bang grenades or CS tear gas, regardless of the situation, the Seattle Patch reported.
Water cannons, various acoustic devices, and other weapons capable of causing discomfort or pain to a group of people are also included in the bill.
The ban also includes the use OC pepper spray on crowds, but officers would be permitted to use the spray if they catch someone in the middle of committing a crime or if a suspect is “presenting an imminent danger to others,” as long as no bystanders are exposed when it is deployed, the Seattle Patch reported.
Some of the people within CHOP are openly carrying firearms.
And when city workers arrived on June 26 to begin removing barricades, protesters stopped city crews from removing the barricades by lying in the road and at least one person brandished a firearm.