Mayor Durkan reflects on challenges posed by Seattle’s summer of protests

Dec 17, 2021, 10:03 AM | Updated: 11:46 am
city council, Seattle protests...
Protesters march to City Hall in August of 2020. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

While Jenny Durkan believes that her term as Seattle mayor was defined by the pandemic, she also presided over a summer of protests, which in some ways, dominated the national discussion in 2020 as much as the virus.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan looks back on a term that was ‘defined by COVID’

That all came to a head after a series of protests in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in June, where police deployed tear gas and flashbangs on multiple occasions. That response from Seattle police saw Durkan face calls to resign, both from residents and city councilmembers.

Speaking to KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross and Hanna Scott, Durkan cited the difficulty in finding “a way to pull people together on mutual ground.”

“I think that’s going to be the biggest challenge, not just for incoming Mayor Bruce Harrell, but our country in the next two and four years,” she opined.

Durkan also cited larger concerns over threats to her own safety, particularly after her address — which had previously been confidential due to her time as a U.S. Attorney — was revealed to protesters who then marched to her home.

“Because (my address) was protected by law, if I got a death threat, I at least had the comfort of thinking they could not find me and my family,” she described. “That changed overnight.”

That speaks to a “broader” lesson, she says, surrounding the need to “draw a bright line” at threatening elected officials.

“We, as a society, have to find a way to make that stop, because it was me, but then it moved to our health boards and our school boards, and somehow the personal attacks and threats to elected officials became a boundary people could cross,” she said.

You can listen to the full interview from Seattle’s Morning News below:

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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Mayor Durkan reflects on challenges posed by Seattle’s summer of protests