KTTH OPINION

Rantz: King Co. Council played Seattle media, gave anti-cop official a pass

Apr 26, 2023, 6:18 PM

Tamer Abouzeid...

OLEO Director Tamer Abouzeid is under fire for tweets bashing police, calling for the public to bring down and "completely replace" the entire criminal justice system, and attacking perceived political opponents as fascists and white supremacists. (King County Council Meeting)

(King County Council Meeting)

The King County Council played Seattle media and gave anti-cop law enforcement oversight director Tamer Abouzeid a complete pass.

Abouzeid is the civilian director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) and socialist activist. His role involves investigating county law enforcement officials who are accused of wrongdoing. But by any reasonable standard, Abouzeid is incapable of impartially investigating law enforcement. For months, Abouzeid has been tweeting anti-police vitriol. He supports police defunding and claims cops “perpetuate more fear, pain, and trauma” on blacks and Latinos.

The controversial official even put out an official OLEO statement claiming “the entire legal system is rotten” and that “it is not about individuals or bad apples, but a racist system with convoluted priorities and arrogant situations.” He explained that “we work within a system that many of us – myself included – believe should be dismantled.” He even said the system “cannot be reformed” and that they “must be brought down by the power of the people.” 

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One King County council member expresses frustration over Tamer Abouzeid

After the King County Officer’s Guild sent a letter of complaint to the council, the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH asked each councilmember if they had concerns. Reagan Dunn, the council’s only conservative councilmember, publicly rebuked Abouzeid in an interview on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. Privately, councilmembers discussed the issue but some purposefully ignored responding to questions in order to avoid further press scrutiny.

Councilmember Sarah Perry expressed her concerns over Abouzeid to council colleagues.

“This kind of stuff is just not helpful for the work I’m doing to build trust and inroads on the work of behavioral health and first responders in my district in particular,” she emailed on March 18. “We work really hard on this because the people who suffer from this lack of trust and community engagement are the most vulnerable. In one fell Twitter swoop his comments threaten to undo a year of work sowing trust and relationship building in support of our most vulnerable. I was asked again about this by our police just yesterday. Very frustrating.”

Playing the media

About 15 minutes later, she forwarded my email seeking comment to her colleagues, including Councilmembers Dave Upthegrove, Claudia Balducci, and Girmay Zahilay.

“Since, I am assuming, this is a request to each of the councilmembers, and as it is a bigger issue being an independent agency, does it make sense to have a unified response to this from the council chair instead of each of us sending quotes or not sending quotes? I am happy to send a response, but I do think this requires a response from the council to add light rather than fan the fire. Thoughts?” Perry wrote.

Upthegrove responded, implying that if they choose to stay silent, other media outlets would be less likely to pick up the story.

“I suspect we all have different opinions, so if anyone wants talk to Jason Rantz about Tamer, they should feel free to do so,” Upthegrove emailed back. “I don’t typically respond to Jason, so I’m not planning to respond to a similar email I received. I’m also not looking to create a bigger story by making any comments on this right now.” 

Five of the nine councilmembers did not offer comment. They were as silent as local media.

Media silence as council backs anti-police, anti-Semitic director

The only media outlets to report on this objectively important story were KTTH and MyNorthwest. That it was an exclusive to a conservative journalist and it showed cops as victims could explain why. And despite some comments behind the scenes, the majority of councilmembers didn’t take the issue seriously either. They didn’t have to.

Abouzeid responded to the concern on his Twitter feed, before turning it private. He claimed the concern from police was “manufactured,” a position seemingly adopted by the majority of the council.

“In case you’re here looking for a response from me to some manufactured outrage (which unfortunately some decent folks have been pulled into), you won’t find anything: I will not engage with bad-faith actors; attacks started on me before I even started the job,” Abouzeid tweeted.

Abouzeid’s reference to previous “attacks” concern his support and defense of terrorists murdering Jews and seeking the end of Israel. When Abouzeid’s appointment was announced, some of his past anti-Semitic comments came to light.

He wrote a Letter to the Editor in an August 2001 edition of the Chicago Tribune. The letter was titled “Not Terrorists” and it took issue with the label “terrorists” placed on Palestinians attacking Israel and killing innocent Jews.

“In Israel/Palestine, the Palestinians who die for their cause are called ‘terrorists.’ The only reason they are called so is because their attacks are not planned by a government,” Abouzeid falsely asserted. “The Israeli army has killed more people, used heavier weapons and artillery, and left hundreds homeless – all following the commands of one man, Ariel Sharon. How, then, could the Palestinians who die proving a point that could only be proven this way be called ‘terrorists’? It is unfair.”

He told staff that criticism of his pro-terrorist position was “no doubt based on my heritage and religion.”

Rantz: King County official defended terrorists, tweets anti-Semitic smears

King County Council backs Abouzeid, dismissed anti-cop concerns

Council Chief of Staff Stephanie Cirkovich drafted a letter to the King County Police Officers Guild for Upthegrove, who signed his name to it, responding to their concerns. But those concerns were mostly dismissed.

“The members of the county council viewed these comments as unnecessary and not aligned with OLEO’s mission, which is based on a foundation of objectivity and best achieved through a professional working relationship with the department. We have shared this perspective with Tamer, and he agrees that OLEO’s work is too important to be overshadowed by comments that can be misinterpreted to undermine his sincere commitment to equity and accountability,” Upthegrove wrote.

Rather than acknowledge that Abouzeid’s positions were problematic given the position he holds, Upthegrove dismissed them as “comments that can be misinterpreted.” What could they be misinterpreted as? He directly calls the system “racist” and says it “cannot be reformed.” He argues the criminal justice system, including the very department he oversees, “must be brought down by the power of the people.”

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Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: King Co. Council played Seattle media, gave anti-cop official a pass