Since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Seattle has seen ongoing protests of various sizes and attitudes. Most have been peaceful, but the initial demonstrations were marred by arson and looting, and the police response was aggressive. Now that things have calmed, many people are raising tough questions about the tactics used by the cops and are pressing both Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best to explain why they approved the hardline approach.
Those are issues worth addressing, but three City Council members are skewing the debate in a foolish direction.
Kshama Sawant, Tammy Morales and Teresa Mosqueda are calling for the mayor to resign, and Sawant says she’ll drive for impeachment if Durkan does not step down voluntarily. This is an unhelpful distraction that will take attention away from making needed reforms in policing methods by turning it into a political battle rather than a chance for the whole community to come together to create a better system that has no taint of racial bias or a militarized ethic. And the whole community includes a lot more people than just the protesters now camped out up on Capitol Hill, the cohort Sawant led into City Hall a few days ago to rally against Durkan.
Sawant’s sole interest is “the movement” that she wants to lead. Even though Durkan is unquestionably progressive in her politics, she is a former federal prosecutor and will always be suspect to someone like Sawant. The mayor understands that this city is composed of many people with diverse views and competing interests and that it will take work, persuasion and, perhaps, compromise to make progress that can be sustained.
That is not Sawant’s style. She is a firebrand who, like the Queen in “Alice in Wonderland,” has one answer to every question, and it is always some form of “off with their heads.”
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