Court rules cops can sue Seattle councilwoman for libel for calling them murderers

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SEATTLE, WA – A federal court has cleared the way for Seattle police to move forward with a lawsuit against a city councilwoman who called them murderers for the justified shooting of Che Taylor.

Taylor was shot Feb. 21, 2016, in the Wedgwood neighborhood of Seattle. Officers who were conducting an undercover drug operation said Taylor was reaching for a gun and not complying with commands when they shot him.

 

Following the shooting, Councilwoman Kshama Sawant spoke to a crowd outside of the Seattle Police Department, calling for “justice”:

“The brutal murder of Che Taylor, just a blatant murder at the hands of police, shows how urgently we need to keep building our movement for basic human rights for black people and brown people.

“We need justice on the individual actions, and we need to turn the tide on the systematic police brutality and racial profiling.”

Officers Michael Spaulding and Scott Miller were cleared in the shooting by an inquest panel who ruled the officers were in fear for their lives at the time of the shooting.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said at the time:

“In light of the investigative materials, the video evidence, the testimony of witnesses at the inquest and the jurors’ answers to the court’s interrogatories, there is insufficient evidence to overcome this complete defense as defined by the statute.”

In 2017, the two officers involved in the shooting filed a lawsuit against Councilwoman Sawant for defamation of character. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge for the fourth time in December 2020.

However, last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit permitted the lawsuit to move forward, overturning the 2020 court ruling.

In the ruling, Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote:

“(Sawant’s) own words suggested that her remarks were directed not only at the police generally, but also at the individual officers involved in the shooting.”

The judge said that although Sawant did not name the officer specifically, the intent to include the specific officers in her comments was clearly indicated.

The ruling comes just under three weeks before voters decide whether Sawant remains on the city council.  She is the subject of a recall election for which ballots will be distributed starting December 7.

The Seattle Times editorial board supported the recall effort, writing this week:

“Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant has long been an outspoken voice for socialist ideals with an utter disregard for the city’s business community. She has also inserted rudeness, bullying and shoddy ethics into City Hall, which has done profound disservice to her District 3 constituency and the city.

“Voters should hold Sawant accountable for transgressions against civil governance and remove her from office.”

The board singled out an incident where Sawant led a march on the home of Mayor Jenny Durkan:

“Sawant spent public money on her political stumping, helped lead a march on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house despite the confidentiality of its address and broke City Hall’s COVID-19 lockdown to usher in hundreds of protesters.

“Often at odds with a majority of the council, Sawant has not matured into an effective representative, instead choosing rhetoric over substance, and disregarding any civic norm that comes between her and a microphone.”

Sawant, the council’s only socialist member, began serving in office in 2014.

Editor note: In 2020, we saw a nationwide push to “defund the police”.  While we all stood here shaking our heads wondering if these people were serious… they cut billions of dollars in funding for police officers.  And as a result, crime has skyrocketed – all while the same politicians who said “you don’t need guns, the government will protect you” continued their attacks on both our police officers and our Second Amendment rights.

And that’s exactly why we’re launching this national crowdfunding campaign as part of our efforts to help “re-fund the police”.

For those looking for a quick link to get in the fight and support the cause, click here.

Do you want to join our private family of first responders and supporters?  Get unprecedented access to some of the most powerful stories that the media refuses to show you.  Proceeds get reinvested into having active, retired and wounded officers, their families and supporters tell more of these stories.  Click to check it out.

LET Unity

It begins: Recall efforts proceeding against socialist, anti-police Seattle City Council member Sawant

May 6, 2021

 

SEATTLE, WA – The wheels are in motion to recall Seattle City Council member and self-described socialist Kshama Sawant, who has pushed for defunding the police, supported Seattle’s CHOP, and led Black Lives Matter protesters in an illegal nighttime invasion of City Hall.

Sawant, from the Socialist Alternative party, has been a member of the Seattle City Council since 2014, representing District 3.  Her “About” page on the Seattle.gov website states that she “ran on a platform of fighting for a $15/hr minimum wage, rent control and taxing the super-rich to fund mass transit and education.”

Although the website also boasts that Sawant “only accepts the average workers’ wage and donates the rest of her six-figure salary to building social justice movements,” things are apparently not what they seem when it comes to Sawant’s “average” salary and implied relationship with lower-income persons. 

Jason Rantz reports that Sawant, who has a net worth of $550,000, donates most of her salary to the Kshama Sawant Solidarity Fund, and that the “majority of the donations made its way back to Sawant via Socialist Alternative.”

The Seattle.gov website also states that Sawant has been a member of Socialist Alternative since 2006, and that she was a supporter of the Occupy Movement.

More recently, Sawant has been a prominent voice in the movement to defund the Seattle Police Department, joining last year with her fellow city council members in a call to cut the police budget by 50 percent.

In addition, she took three additional actions in 2020 that prompted one of her constituents to put forth a recall effort.

The official Recall Kshama Sawant website details these actions as follows:

  1. “Misuse of City of Seattle Council Office Resources to Promote a Ballot Initiative or Other Electioneering (Jan-February 2020)”
  2. “Misuse of Councilmember Sawant’s Official Position in Admitting Hundreds of Individuals Illegally into City Hall Afterhours (June 9, 2020)”
  3. “Using Her Official Position as City Councilmember to Lead a Protest March to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Private Residence Whose Location is in the State Confidential Program (July 3rd 2020)”

In the first instance, Sawant used her official email account, constituent email list, and city-hosted website to push for the Tax Amazon Campaign, a move to increase taxes on large businesses to fund COVID-19 relief and the Green New Deal.

In the second instance, Sawant allowed throngs of Black Lives Matter protesters into City Hall after hours on the night of June 9, 2020, when the building was closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions.  Supreme Court documents affirm that doing so “endangered the safety of city workers and other individuals.”

In the third instance, Sawant led a Black Lives Matter march in July 2020 to the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.  Supreme Court documents confirm that Sawant knew at the time that Durkan’s address “was protected under state confidentiality laws.”

According to KOMO News, the Washington State Constitution allows for a recall of a politician if said politician “has committed some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office.”

District 3 resident Ernest Lou initially launched the recall effort in the summer of 2020.  The process moved forward with the approval of the King County Superior Court, and then on April 1, 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously found charges relating to those three actions sufficient to allow recall to continue.

Sawant’s supporters have taken to labeling those in charge of the recall effort as part of “[b]ig business” and “the right-wing,” stating on the Kshama Solidarity website:

“Big business and the right-wing are using the courts and their deep pockets to try to silence Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant with a recall campaign. 

“They are furious about her consistent support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the victories she has spearheaded with her socialist council office, including the Amazon Tax, the $15 minimum wage, and landmark legislation for renters’ rights.”

The Socialist Alternative website continues in this vein, asserting:

“Big business and the right wing are attempting to remove Kshama for her role in leading movements to win historic victories for working people and marginalized communities….

“It’s precisely because Councilmember Sawant has fought consistently and unambiguously for working and oppressed people throughout her seven years in office that the billionaires, the right wing, and the political establishment want to remove her by any means necessary.”

The website goes on to say:

“All three of the charges upheld by the Supreme Court attack Kshama for supporting protest movements – the Black Lives Matter and Tax Amazon movements – which is exactly what Seattle voters elected her to do….

“The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the recall campaign sets a dangerous precedent because it is an attack on the vital right to protest. If this recall is successful, it will open the floodgates for increased repression of our movements.”

The notion of a right wing, big business conspiracy spearheading the recall movement has understandably been called into question, especially given the preponderance of leftist thinking in Seattle, as well as original petitioner Ernest Lou’s description of himself as “a moderate Democrat and a ‘bleeding heart liberal.’”

Recall Sawant chair Henry Bridger recently described recall supporters as “retirees, hard workers,” and as “Democrat or liberal.” 

As it turns out, large numbers of individual contributions of $700 or more have overwhelmingly gone into pro-Sawant coffers, whereas with recall effort contributions, 74% of donors contributed $25 or less. 

In addition, records actually show that most (65%) of financial supporters of Sawant against the recall come from outside Seattle, as opposed to only 35% of recall supporters.

As of April 22, according to the Seattle Times,  the recall effort has 180 days to collect sufficient valid petition signatures from District 3, which would amount to 10,739, or 25% of votes cast in the general election of 2019.

If a recall election is held, it would either take place during the November 2 general elections, or during special election at a later time. 

 

 

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