Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan Must Resign

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“Jenny Durkan has failed the working people of Seattle since day one of her administration. She has now abused her power, and harmed thousands of ordinary people on the streets – all in defense of big business and the status quo of racism and inequality.” 

SEATTLE Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, issued this statement today:

The brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police has lit a spark of national and global protest by youth and working people fed up with this racist, violent, and deeply unequal society under capitalism. In Seattle, thousands upon thousands of ordinary people have come out courageously in daily protests to demand justice for police killings and systemic change.

It has been tragically ironic that this growing movement against police violence and brutality has been consistently met with more violence and brutality. The responsibility for this vicious targeting of these overwhelmingly peaceful protests in Seattle lies with Mayor Jenny Durkan.

Durkan and the city’s Democratic Party establishment have utterly failed ordinary people. Since the first protests on Saturday, May 30, Durkan has repeatedly unleashed Seattle police to use ever-escalating violence against ordinary people protesting the police murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many other black and brown people. 

Under Durkan’s direction, the police have inflicted tear gas, mace, rubber bullets, flashbang grenades, curfews, arrests, and other repressive tactics on Seattle activists and residents – including children – in an attempt to bully and silence the protest movement. The police, under Durkan’s leadership, have deployed militaristic tactics in full riot gear to try to spread fear among ordinary people. Video footage reveals that the police appear to come prepared with instructions and equipment to orchestrate violence.

That is why, as a socialist elected representative accountable to Seattle’s working people, it is my duty to join with the rapidly-growing calls in the community for Jenny Durkan to step down.

Even before the events of this past week, Durkan was failing the people of Seattle. 

She aligned with the Trump administration and the police in seeking to get the police department out from under the federal oversight of the consent decree – even as police brutality towards and killings of black and brown people, poor and homeless neighbors, and those facing mental illness, continue unabated. Her administration has ignored repeated community efforts to halt the inhumane and homeless sweeps of homeless encampments, and has in fact doubled down on the sweeps policy. The sweeps have even been continued during the pandemic, despite cries of outrage from throughout the community.

Since being elected with the help of a record political donation by Amazon, Durkan has doggedly fought to maintain the tax haven that Amazon and other big businesses enjoy and fought against progressive taxation. 

Tens of thousands of Seattle residents have lost jobs and income in the last two months; countless are on the verge of homelessness, and are struggling to get food and basic necessities. Yet even now, Durkan insists on protecting Amazon and other pandemic profiteers from taxation to fund urgent human needs. 

Worse, she is poised to unveil a new austerity budget, which would brutally slash hundreds of millions of dollars in funds for already underfunded social programs, further risking the health and safety of working people so that the billionaires can continue to skate free. On April 23, as working people had already begun to reel from the pandemic recession, Durkan flatly rejected the Amazon Tax, saying: “Yeah, that never is going to happen, and I think it’s irresponsible for anyone to say that that’s even possible.”

Socialist Alternative and I have no illusions that simply putting a liberal Democratic politician in the Mayor’s office is going to solve the problems that working people and communities of color face in this deeply unequal city. Notwithstanding that, there are many honest and progressive rank-and-file activists in local Democratic Party organizations who do important work in the movement, and whom we are proud to work alongside. The initial call for Durkan’s resignation has in fact been led by many of these grassroots Democratic Party activists. I urge the Democratic Party City Councilmembers to also join the rank and file of their party and the community in calling for Mayor Durkan to resign.

Our movement must also recognize the longstanding truth that fundamentally, the Democratic Party at the national level is bought and paid for by the titans of Wall Street, and loyally serves corporate interests at the local level. Our movement needs to build independent political power and a new party for working people that takes no corporate money and is accountable to our movements.

Mayor Durkan has failed the working people of Seattle since day one of her administration. She has now abused her power, and harmed thousands of ordinary people on the streets – all in defense of big business and the status quo of racism and inequality. 

This past week has been the final straw.

It is time for Jenny Durkan to finally be held accountable. It is time for her to go. 

If Mayor Durkan refuses to step aside, it will be the responsibility of the City Council to remove her, by introducing articles of impeachment.