Durkan asks Seattle City Council to investigate, potentially expel Kshama Sawant

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has asked the City Council to investigate socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, calling for her to be punished and possibly even expelled from her position over a series of actions surrounding police protests.

Durkan made her case against Sawant in a letter she sent to Council President Lorena González on Tuesday, accusing Sawant of engaging in activities that Durkan believes warrant further scrutiny and action.

"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," Durkan wrote in the letter.

Durkan's letter accuses Sawant of the following:

  • Allowing hundreds of protesters into City Hall after hours without following social distancing or masking protocols, prompting safety complaints from janitorial staff.
  • Leading a protest to the mayor's home, knowing that Durkan's address is protected by a state program due to threats related her time as a U.S. Attorney.
  • Using her position to encourage protesters to occupy the East Precinct as "the City has been trying to de-escalate the situation and ask individuals to depart because of violence in the area."

Durkan took personal issue with Sawant's decision to deliver a speech outside her home over the weekend.

"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," Durkan wrote.

In recent weeks, Sawant has called for Mayor Durkan's resignation amid criticism of the Seattle Police Department's handling of demonstrations over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

"Durkan’s attack on my office is an attack on the grassroots campaigns we’ve participated in and helped lead alongside many others, and the progressive victories we have all won together. While her words are directed at me and my elected office, I don’t take it personally," Sawant said in a prepared statement. 

"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."

Seattle police abandoned the East Precinct in Capitol Hill three weeks ago amid ongoing clashes with protesters. A group of protesters then created the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, known as CHOP, which has turned increasingly violent since its inception – with two fatal shootings.

Police don't respond to calls inside the CHOP unless it's a life-threatening situation. Police Chief Carmen Best has spoken out against CHOP and wants the city to reclaim SPD's East Precinct.

“Enough is enough,” Best told reporters after a second deadly shooting Monday. “We need to be able to get back into the area.”

Q13 has contacted Council President Lorena Gonzalez's office for comment.