Kshama Solidarity Campaign Organizing Socially-Distanced Protest and Livestream Saturday, 11am at Cal Anderson
For Immediate Release: April 2, 2021
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON -- Following today’s ruling from the Washington State Supreme Court to allow a recall campaign against Seattle’s District 3 Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Sawant, labor and community leaders held an online press conference to announce next steps to defend Sawant and working people's movements.
“This ruling is completely unjust, but we are not surprised,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant. “Working people and oppressed communities know that we cannot rely on the capitalist courts for justice anymore than we can rely on the police. It is well-suited for retaliation against working people’s representatives, in part because there is no requirement that the charges even be proven true.”
“In October, the Washington State Supreme Court unanimously threw out the grassroots recall of Amazon’s Mayor, Democrat Jenny Durkan, who oversaw the vicious police crackdown against Seattle protesters last summer,” continued Sawant. “Among other dangerous weapons, Seattle police under Durkan used teargas during a respiratory pandemic, which has the potential to increase the spread of the coronavirus and to cause long-term harm in individuals with asthma or other respiratory conditions. Yet the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Recall’s objection to the use of tear gas really represented a “political disagreement” with Durkan and therefore did not have merit, and they summarily dismissed the case. Now, this same Court has unanimously approved the recall against Seattle’s only elected socialist because we held a masked, one-hour Black Lives Matter rally in an empty City Hall. The Supreme Court’s real reason for siding with the recall is highly political: it is an attack on our office for unambiguously standing with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Supreme Court has thrown out a whole series of recall cases for establishment politicians, including the COVID-safety denying Sheriff of Thurston County, John Snaza. Sheriff Snaza refused to require his police officers to wear masks in the midst of this historic pandemic, putting ordinary people in even greater danger than usual at the hands of the police. The hypocrisy is on every level breathtaking.”
“As these untrue, spurious charges against Kshama go ahead with a recall campaign, we can see whose side the courts are on,” added Bryan Koulouris, the Kshama Solidarity Campaign Spokesperson. “It’s an undemocratic attempt to criminalize protest and an undemocratic attempt at voter suppression.”
Community and labor leaders spoke to the importance of defending Councilmember Sawant’s seat against the Recall Campaign, which is is backed by a host of corporate executives and developers, including billionaire landlord and Trump donor Martin Selig; Jeannie Nordstrom of the billionaire union-busting, retail giant Nordstrom dynasty; Airbnb Chief Financial Officer and former Amazon Vice President Dave Stephenson; Merrill Lynch Senior Vice President Matt Westphal; wealthy Trump donors like Dennis Weibling, Vidur Luthra and Greg Eneil; and plethora of major real-estate players, such as John Stephanus, whose asset management company, Epic, has ranked amongst Seattle’s top 10 landlords for evictions.
“Billionaires and corporate executives know that Kshama is both principled and effective, and that her City Council office is a space where working, marginalized and vulnerable people are always the top priority,” said Sharon Crowley, a member and organizer with UAW 4121. “She listens to us, she fights for our needs, and she wins. This scares them. This is why I’m here today, standing in solidarity with Kshama. She has been here, standing in solidarity with us, fighting with and for us.”
“We in the drivers union want to extend the protections we have won to all members in the gig economy,” said Don Creery, an Uber driver and a board member of the Drivers Union, a Teamsters 117 affiliate. “We know that Kshama is going to be right next to us in this fight. The billionaires know this as well. There is nothing a billionaire loves more than a worker who has no rights.”
“As socialists are elected across the country, in a tremendous step forward, the establishment will tell them to try to play nice. Don’t rock the boat too much. Kshama and Socialist Alternative set a different example. We call out the corporate Democrats when they betray working people. Councilmember Sawant takes only the wage of an average worker in the city and uses her seat to build movements. Socialism and movement building aren’t just for Saturday speeches, but for every minute to win victories. They’re afraid that this style of leadership will spread, just like the $15 minimum wage spread, just like the Amazon Tax is spreading. That’s why they’re so determined to drive Councilmember Sawant out of office.”
Speakers also highlighted how Councilmember Sawant has often been the only elected official to fight alongside progressive movements. “This summer, millions of people protested to demand justice for George Floyd,” said Natalya McConell, a student activist and current Freshman class president at Franklin High School. “I and other students wanted to organize a Black Lives Matter protest to defund police and remove cops from schools. Kshama was there fighting alongside us from the start. Unlike most politicians, Kshama didn’t just make empty statements of support.”
“16 years ago, my brother, Herbert Hightower Jr, was shot and killed by the Seattle Police while experiencing a mental health crisis,” said Castill Hightower. “Inspired by the Justice for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter movements across the country, I decided it was time to fight back. After reaching out to multiple organizations, I was lucky enough to be welcomed and supported by the principled and effective leadership of Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Her unwavering commitment to fight the injustices that allowed my brother to not only be murdered by Seattle Police, but for his killer to then be promoted to Assistant Chief of Police years later, proved to me that an elected representative such as Kshama Sawant is not only rare, but a threat to the now emboldened racist and undemocratic right wing establishment. And that’s also why we need to show up for her, like she has shown up to so many racist and marginalized communities time and time again.”
The Kshama Solidarity Campaign has launched a massive grassroots effort and is preparing to expand its Decline-to-Sign campaign against the recall campaign. The Kshama Solidarity Campaign is now outpacing the Recall on fundraising, with over $425,000 in grassroots donations from over 4,000 individuals, all without taking a dime in corporate cash. In addition, while the Recall Campaign has tried to attack Sawant for her widespread support, the Kshama Solidarity Campaign has received approximately 65% more donations from within Sawant’s District 3, as well as more donations in Seattle overall.
On Saturday, April 3 at 11am PT, Kshama Sawant and progressive leaders will be holding a socially distanced rally against the Recall at Cal Anderson Park, to also be live-streamed online. Watch the full press conference here.