Kshama Sawant, the normally outspoken Seattle City Councilmember and proud member of the Socialist Alternative Party, has been silent lately, especially since a lawsuit filed on Aug. 18 against her for defamation.
Two Seattle police officers who were cleared of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of a man last year have sued Sawant, saying she defamed them when she falsely declared they had committed a “brutal murder,” and that the incident was a product of “racial profiling.”
The suit was brought against Sawant as an individual, without naming the city as a defendant. The suit said officers Scott Miller and Michael Spaulding “do not want one red cent of public money.” Miller and Spaulding “do a hard job for modest pay and little thanks — realities they accept,” the suit adds. “But what they do not accept, and what the law does not permit, is having their reputations ruined by an ambitious politician, doing so for personal gain.”
Miller and Spaulding are white. Che Taylor, 46, was Black. The two shot Taylor next to an open car door in February 2016. Taylor was a felon previously convicted of rape and robbery. Jurors ruled the officers had reason to believe Taylor — facing a “third strike” life sentence if convicted again — was a threat to their safety and that Taylor appeared to be drawing a gun when they opened fire.
Despite the inquest ruling, Sawant continues to refer to the shooting as a “murder” and publicly asserts the officers avoided “accountability,” the suit says.
Sawant needs to remain silent on cases like these, until all the facts are presented. It’s one thing to offer an opinion. Her statements before the inquest weren’t couched as opinion and she did not acknowledge the ongoing investigation, according to the suit.
This is an elected public official who has publicly encouraged civil disobedience and was quoted ahead of May Day protests as saying, “I’m not saying no to any non-violent action.”
Just like the president she openly despises, Sawant has become inflammatory and divisive. Whether or not the police officers prevail in their defamation lawsuit (some say it’s a long shot), this is not the way to lead, Ms. Sawant.
Police officers put their lives on the line every day. Sure, there are some bad apples, but not all cops are bad. And just because Miller and Spaulding are white cops, who shot a Black man, doesn’t make them bad or racist. They’re caught in a tough “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation. Defend yourself and risk vitriol, or take a bullet and possibly die.
As a representative of the city of Seattle that employs these officers, you set a bad example by not just criticizing these officers, but condemning them before allowing the system to find the answers.
You have stayed silent for days, and this editor hopes it remains that way. ■