Sawant Condemns Durkan’s Attack on Capitol Hill Organized Protest

Home » Sawant Condemns Durkan’s Attack on Capitol Hill Organized Protest

July 2, 2020

“ It is stunning that Mayor Durkan has continued to use brutal police violence despite the widespread and decisive opposition from her constituents, and in the face of calls from over 47,000 people for her to resign.” SEATTLE Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), chair of the Council’s Sustainability and Renters Rights Committee, issued the following statement in response to yesterday’s Mayor-ordered police violence against the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP): “Shame on Mayor Jenny Durkan for deploying Seattle police yesterday in a brutal attack against the peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters and homeless neighbors at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP). Socialist Alternative and I stand in full solidarity with the movement for Black Lives here in Seattle and across the country, including with the courageous young protesters at the CHOP demanding justice in our city, and with our homeless neighbors. “There are reports of Seattle Police using pepper spray and rubber bullets against unarmed protesters. Seattle police also put their knee on the neck of at least one protester, in a dark echo of the murder of George Floyd that sparked these protests in the first place. There are also reports of 44 protesters being arrested, and of the police threatening independent media. The attack also involved an egregious sweep of homeless neighbors. “It is stunning that Mayor Durkan has continued to use brutal police violence despite the widespread and decisive opposition from her constituents, and in the face of calls from over 45,000 people for her to resign. The shameful actions by the police yesterday, under Durkan’s orders, are also a brazen defiance and rejection of the hard-fought bans won by our movement against chemical and other so-called “crowd control” weapons and chokeholds, which will go into effect July 26. “I believe it is no accident that Mayor Durkan gave her order to carry out this attack on the movement and the CHOP in the dead of night, and that it was carried out during the day-long City Council budget committee on the Amazon Tax. “While the mayor postures in opposition to Trump, a different story is revealed by Trump’s Attorney General William Barr praise for Seattle police actions under Durkan’s direction, reiterating Trump’s polarizing and deeply racist “law and order” rhetoric.  “Socialist Alternative and I are deeply saddened by the violence and tragic loss of life in these past two weeks, and my heart goes out to the families of the community members who died and those who were injured. Yet, as many have pointed out, violence has unfortunately been happening for years near the East Precinct when police were present, with themselves not infrequently contributing to it. “While the details of each of the recent incidents of violence in or near the camp remain unclear,  at least one shooting was right-wing motivated: one young man has testified that he was detained and shot by far right members of the Proud Boys. “In Seattle and across the country, the powerful protest movement against police violence and racism has shattered the notion that there is any ‘going back’ to the bankrupt status quo before the pandemic began.  “The CHOP activists have shown tremendous courage facing down brutal violence from the police, including tear gas and rubber bullets. As a socialist, I recognize that a protest occupation cannot shut out all the ills, trauma and violence of capitalist society. This system, which produces deep inequality and poverty for the many also brutally enforces it. This is starkly on display in Mayor Durkan’s 2020 budget proposal which cuts the police budget by just 5%, while cutting vital social services by 15% or more in the middle of a pandemic!  “Occupations have a proud history in mass movements, including in labor and immigrant rights struggles. And our movement needs to make sure to build upon the courageous work of the CHOP activists to continue getting organized to win concrete demands, recognizing that we cannot create a utopia in a few city blocks under this bankrupt system of capitalism. Our communities are devastated by decades of deeply underfunded schools, community programs, and high quality jobs. The structural poverty and daily miseries generated by this system have only been deeply exacerbated by the decades-long neoliberal cuts to social services, public jobs, mental health counseling, and the gutting of the broader public services including education and affordable housing. All of this disproportionately affects black and brown communities. “As I have said before, I believe that the movement should have the democratic right to decide its next steps, not Mayor Durkan or the Seattle police, who used the cover of night to make her move.  “Despite the headlines from corporate news trying to defame our movement, courageous protestors have won a series of important victories to constrain the violence of the Seattle police, to challenge systemic violence, and to save lives:
  • Passing a first-in-nation, comprehensive ban on chemical and so-called “crowd control” weapons along with a ban on chokeholds
  • Kicking the racist Seattle Police Officers’ Guild out of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council
  • Advancing on a historic Amazon Tax which will fund thousands of new, affordable homes as a step towards ending racist policing and gentrification
  • Defending the federal consent decree against Mayor Durkan’s attempted removal
“We still have a long way to go to win our demands and to end the long record of racism and violence by the Seattle police, including the 29 deaths since the consent decree was put in place. “I look forward to standing alongside thousands of others to win our movement’s demands:
  • Defund the police through cutting their budget by at least 50%, and use these funds instead for social services.
  • Immediately release all protestors, and drop all charges.
  • Transfer the East Precinct to permanent community control, through a City-funded community center, affordable housing, or and/or other community-driven initiatives.
  • Establish an independent elected community oversight board, with full powers over the police, including hiring and firing.
  • Immediately invest in 1,000 publicly-owned affordable homes in the Central District, and expansion of affordable housing and priority-hire jobs citywide, paid for by taxing big business, to address the ongoing crisis of racist gentrification.
  • End the inhumane and ineffective sweeps of homeless neighbors, and invest millions of dollars in Tiny House Villages.
“Right now, a movement is occupying outside the New York City Hall demanding cuts to the police budget. They’ve already won a $1 billion cut to the police budget, but are persisting to demand more. As this demonstrates once again, political occupation can be a powerful tactic. “Our movement needs to continue to fight in our workplaces and communities for an end to police violence and institutionalized racism. Workers and young people, seeing no hope for a livable future, are entering into struggle by the thousands for a different kind of society – a world free of exploitation and misery, free of racism and police violence. “2019 was a year of struggle across the globe, with more protests around the world than in any year in history. 2020 is exposing the fragility of a system based on brutal exploitation rather than basic human dignity and need. There is no returning to the status quo. There is only seeking out the best, most effective methods to bring forward the united struggle of working and oppressed people toward victory against the rotten capitalist system.  ###