Pressure continues to mount on Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, as eight of the nine members of the Seattle City Council called for his resignation Monday morning, following comments he made blaming, in part, Black Lives Matter activists for the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Mayor Jenny Durkan called last week for Solan to retract his words and apologize, or resign. The Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council, which expelled the police union from its ranks in June during the mass protests against police brutality, called for Solan’s resignation. So did Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County. And the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington.
The union’s contract expired at the end of 2020 and the acrimony comes as negotiations with the city over a new contract are set to begin.
“Mr. Solan’s remarks and their implications are reprehensible and untrue,” Councilmember Alex Pedersen said at a Monday morning City Council briefing. Pedersen has been one of two council members who have consistently opposed efforts to defund the Police Department by up to 50%.
“It’s time for Mr. Solan to hand this important position over,” Pedersen said. “We must have a partner who has truly embraced that we cannot go back to the way things were. The current president of the police union has, in my view, disqualified himself to be a fair partner in negotiating the contract.”
Also calling for Solan’s resignation as union president Monday were Seattle City Councilmembers M. Lorena González, Lisa Herbold, Andrew Lewis, Tammy Morales, Teresa Mosqueda, Kshama Sawant and Dan Strauss. The only council member not to call for Solan’s resignation was Debora Juarez.
On Friday, two days after the attack at the Capitol that left five dead, including a police officer, Solan retweeted, with approving comments, a right-wing blogger who said “an extreme BLM activist” was among those in the pro-Trump mob.
“As the [mainstream media] point to one group as being the culprits, clearly evidence also shows another group w/ a history of riotous criminal actions,” Solan added.
“Far right and far left are responsible for that sad day,” he wrote.
Solan, a Seattle police officer since 1999, was elected president of the department’s rank-and-file union last year with more than 70% of the vote. He ran as a hard-line candidate, arguing that police were “under unreasonable levels of scrutiny.” A campaign video for Solan praised him for speaking at the scene of a police shooting, “supporting officers’ actions and quickly capturing the narrative.”
Over the summer, he emerged as a frequent guest on conservative media, condemning protesters and Seattle’s elected leaders. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Herbold connected Solan’s comments with the news, announced late Friday by Police Chief Adrian Diaz, that two Seattle police officers were in Washington, D.C., during the riot and have been placed on administrative leave. It has not yet been determined if they participated in the attack on the Capitol.
“I cannot help but wonder whether the actions of these officers were influenced by the rhetoric of their leader,” Herbold said. “This is not the person who I believe should be leading our police officers guild in these challenging times.”
González, the council’s president, said Solan should resign.
“If he does not, I hope that the police guild members who duly elected Officer Solan will seek to have him removed or replaced,” she said.
Councilmember Andrew Lewis said: “To peddle in conspiracy theories regarding the white nationalist mob that invaded the Capitol and murdered a police officer is a colossal breach of his duty.”
Robert Alexander, a retired Seattle police officer who leads the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington, said his group works to bring accountability to law enforcement.
“Mike Solan’s comments undermine not only our work but those of others who seek to make law enforcement better by regaining the trust of our communities,” Alexander said. “Anything short of his resignation would be considered an insult to all of the good men and women in law enforcement who work tirelessly to be the best stewards and guardians of the communities in which they serve.”
“Mike Solan’s comments on the right-wing mob are out of line & an affront to those fighting for racial justice,” the MLK Labor Council wrote on Twitter. “This is part of a pattern of behavior that shows Solan is more interested in building his public profile than representing his members. He should resign.”
Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County said Solan “is incapable and unwilling to do the work that needs to be done to dismantle racism in the union.”
“His leadership perpetuates the problem rather than addressing it,” the group said. “He must resign.”