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Seattle Mayor says President’s threat to send military is unwelcome, illegal

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (Seattle Channel)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan addressed the media for the first time in many days with Police Chief Carmen Best to address the situation at the East Precinct, the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” and President Trump’s threats to Seattle.

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“I again want us all to remember that the spark that started the national dialogue we are having today on policing, systemic racism, and how to build true equity was because of the murder of George Floyd,” Durkan began the conference.

She noted that there is a need to stop our national pain, and the pain experienced in the city of Seattle. The United States and Seattle have failed to address systemic barriers and racism.

“Seattle: We are a passionate city, we demand justice, we are at the forefront of change,” Durkan said. “And I will not allow anyone to distract our city from the work that has to be done and will be done.”

Durkan said the city is rethinking policing and the allocation of tax payer funds, and how to better invest in community programs. She has been working on criminal justice reform and police reform for decades, and admits there is a long way to go.

“I will continue to meet with community to listen,” Durkan promised.

Durkan, Chief Best, and the city are committed to protecting the first amendment rights of residents. As far as Capitol Hill, Durkan said Cal Anderson Park and Capitol Hill have always been places of free speech and community.

“I’ve got news for people: It’s been autonomous my whole lifetime,” Durkan said about Capitol Hill.

The mayor also assured Washingtonians that there is no imminent threat of a U.S. military invasion, as President Trump threatened on Twitter. She said the threat is not only unwelcome, but illegal. Durkan also said the President painted a false portrait of what is happening in Capitol Hill.

“It’s simply not true,” she said. “Lawfully gathering and expressing first amendment rights, … is not terrorism.”

“The right to challenge authority and government is fundamental to who we are as Americans,” Durkan added.

Durkan that listening to community is not a weakness, but a strength. She has spoken with Gov. Inslee and has assured that no military will be coming to Washington state.

“We cannot lose sight of the conversation our community needs to be having,” Durkan said. “We cannot lose this moment.”

The mayor said there needs to be a change at the city level, in policing, education, health care, public health, and at the county and state levels.

“We are seeing movement in ways we have not seen in decades, and that’s a good thing,” Durkan said. “… This change has to be centered on the voices of community and what people need.”

The mayor’s office has prioritized having conversations with community leaders and residents about changes the community wants to see in the city and how they want to bring these changes about. These conversations are difficult, but have to happen, she said.

“The more uncomfortable it is for me as mayor, probably the more important it is for it to happen.”

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