Rantz: Multiple EEO, city complaints filed against Seattle dept. for ‘deranged’ anti-police email

Jun 10, 2021, 5:50 PM | Updated: Jun 11, 2021, 3:37 pm
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Seattle police outside of Pike Place Market. (File photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(File photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

Seattle police officers are fighting back after being called white supremacists in a vicious all-staff email sent by a member of leadership in Seattle’s Department of Finance and Administrative Services (FAS). Making matters worse, a spokesperson for the department is defending the email.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned that multiple complaints are being lodged against FAS. Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nollette is one of the complainants, according to a leaked email. The police union has also filed several complaints with various agencies.

And as the complaints are filed, more high-ranking officers are speaking out. In an email to staff, East Precinct Captain Eric Sano wrote that “to have the City support this clown and back his statements by not condemning the content is even more upsetting.”

Serious fallout from the vicious anti-police manifesto

The inflammatory email was sent by Daniel Holmberg, a senior management systems analyst with FAS. It’s titled, “White supremacy thrives without consequences.” He is part of the FAS expanded leadership team, according to a department spokesperson.

The email reads like a radical, unhinged manifesto. It doesn’t merely call police officers white supremacists; it says they purposefully target Black people with deadly force.

“When the arbiters of justice serve the false gods of white supremacy, they are not worthy of the power they wield,” Holmberg writes. “If police protection and restraint extend only to white people, they are no longer guardians; they are mercenaries and zealots, paid in the wages of white privilege, inflicting their wicked commandments upon us.”

Holmberg is an elected member of the department’s Change Team. They help the department achieve equity and anti-racist goals. But his screed comes off as intolerant, ignorant, and hateful — just as much as the white supremacists he claims to abhor.

And now equal employment opportunity (EEO) complaints are coming.

Multiple complaints are coming

Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nollette is a 25-year veteran of the department and a crucial Command Staff member. To say she was unhappy with the FAS email feels like an understatement.

“A city employee, on city time and utilizing city resources, sent a poorly written, factually inaccurate and inflammatory message labeling law enforcement as a whole and the Seattle Police Department as racist and corrupt,” Nollette emailed her bureau.

She titled the email, “Ignorance thrives without consequences” — a direct smack at Holmberg’s screed.

The assistant chief passionately defended the work of her officers, praising their training and commitment to serving this city. But she wasn’t interested in just defending her officers in an email. She said she was going one step further.

“Had any member of the SPD written such an inflammatory communication targeting a fellow city Department, they would be subject to investigation and likely discipline for professionalism and/or an EEO hostile work environment. While FAS does not have an OPA [Office of Police Accountability] or an Inspector General I will be reaching out to the city EEO to file a complaint. I am honored to work in this agency and for you,” she wrote.

Nollette is not the only one filing a complaint.

Union files multiple complaints

The Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) is filing multiple complaints against FAS. They started by filing an official complaint with the mayor.

The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH has learned that complaints have been or will be imminently filed with Seattle Office of Civil Rights, Ombudsman, the city’s Human Resources Department, and soon, state and federal agencies.

SPOG President Mike Solan sent a lengthy letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan demanding she “address the inexcusable conduct” of Holmberg. He called Holmberg’s email “unreasonable, bigoted, biased, discriminatory, deranged, devoid of logic and lacked anything remotely factual.”

“Mr. Holmberg’s official city email violated the city’s employee conduct policies and your department’s vision, mission and values statement,” Solan wrote the mayor. “It is also in stunning conflict to the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative covering ALL City of Seattle employee conduct.”

Solan argues that Holmberg’s role in FAS makes his conduct especially egregious. In fact, he argues, officers now feel that they’re at risk.

“Mr. Holmberg’s letter has now created a hostile work environment where our members fear for their safety. As you know, FAS controls the police facilities our members work in and the fleet of patrol cars used on a daily basis,” Solan continued. “Given the blatant racist, bias and discriminatory letter that was sent on behalf of FAS, the City of Seattle owes our membership and all City of Seattle Employees a thorough investigation into our complaint. We expect the City of Seattle to hold Mr. Holmberg and any other city employee that authorized this letter accountable for violating city policies.”

Read the full complaint here.

FAS makes matters worse

Melissa Mixon is the spokesperson for FAS. She contacted me after I reached out to Holmberg and FAS Director Calvin W. Goings for comment. Her response, defending Holmberg’s email from the Change Team, created a firestorm of criticism from officers rarely seen. They were livid.

“If we have learned anything from the past year — when COVID-19 disproportionately ravaged communities of color and the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others laid bare how entrenched systemic racism is in our country—it is that we cannot afford to stay comfortable,” Mixon emailed the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Staying comfortable is costing lives, specifically Black lives, and we stand behind our Change Team for keeping us accountable and challenging all of us to learn, to re-examine, to grow and, above all, to act in this urgent work.”

She said the Change Team works autonomously with their content in order “to be truly genuine and transformative.” She said they “have the full support of our department leadership.”

“The overall intent of their email, as with most of their communications, is to highlight disparate treatment of BIPOC communities, to unpack the systems at play that can contribute to institutionalized racism, to challenge our department to bring a racial and social justice lens to our work and to spur conversations around hard topics — just as this article is doing,” she noted.

This defense rubbed SPD East Precinct Captain Eric Sano the wrong way.

Captain shreds email and response

Sano says in his email that he felt compelled to speak up. The email was forwarded to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH by multiple sources inspired by the message.

“I think it’s important, as their Captain, that the officers know where I stand on this matter,” he said.

He said he was “very, very angry” about the email and the city’s response. Like Nollette, he praised the work his officers do and the training they receive. But when it came to Holmberg, he didn’t hold back.

“It astounds me that a City employee, on city time and utilizing city resources, can send a document that, in my opinion, is no better than the garbage spewed by extremist hate groups! Then, to have the City support this clown and back his statements by not condemning the content is even more upsetting,” Sano wrote. “This ‘Manifesto’ was poorly written and factually inaccurate. His inflammatory message labeling law enforcement as a whole and the Seattle Police Department as racist and corrupt was about as bigoted as you can get. But, I guess that’s the latitude you’re allowed when you do things under the guise of racial equity, diversity and inclusion. Well, guess what? Just because you’re on the ‘City Change Team’ does not give you the freedom to spread hate.”

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It gets personal

For Sano, it seems especially personal. Holmberg would dare label him a white supremacist? Sano is Asian-American.

“I have been with this agency for nearly 37 years. I am an Asian-American, whose father was interned during the Second World War and who lived during the Vietnam War, where my younger brother and I endured flat-out overt racism just because we looked like the North Vietnamese soldiers that were being shown on all the major news channels back then. So, I know what racism looks like. This Department is not as was depicted in his e-mail,” Sano declared.

He also shared a similar observation as the Assistant Chief. In fact, many officers who have reached out to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH made similar observations.

“What really chaps my hide is that had I, or any member of the SPD, written such an inflammatory letter calling out another City Department/Employee, I’d be facing an investigation,” Sano noted. “And, knowing the current anti-police sentiment, it would most likely result in my demotion or termination for professionalism and/or creating a hostile work environment. Interestingly, no other City Department has a reporting mechanism that is as robust as ours is. This guy can voice his vitriol with little to no repercussions. But, as far as I’m concerned, this guy is as bigoted as any other hate group we investigate.”

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Rantz: Multiple EEO, city complaints filed against Seattle dept. for ‘deranged’ anti-police email