Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg and Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes delivered a letter to U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security today, expressing significant concerns regarding the deployment of federal forces and seeking clarification on the intended scope of their potential actions in Seattle.
Recent troubling comments from President Trump and the arrival of federal agents to Seattle “on standby” inspired the officials to seek clarity on the federal agents’ intentions in advance of planned demonstrations this weekend. Federal agents in Portland have reportedly overstepped their protection of federal property and apprehended people on public streets, resulting in a federal court order quelling their tactics.
The letter states, “Further information is particularly necessary in light of numerous recent statements by President Trump indicating that he intends a federal law enforcement role which goes far beyond protecting federal buildings and instead improperly intrudes on local government roles and authority.”
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan said, “With this President, we are on the precipice of something truly frightening, both in Seattle and across our country. We have a president who is determined to exercise unconstitutional force against American cities and against the American public. I have previously worked with federal law enforcement in my former role as U.S. Attorney and chief federal law enforcement officer of Western Washington. Federal law enforcement was never a dictatorship – it was a partnership. Should federal forces intervene like they have in Portland, we are prepared to pursue every legal recourse available to us.”
King County Executive Dow Constantine said, “An increasingly desperate and unstable president is attempting to use armed federal forces to sow fear and precipitate violence in American cities. He seems to want badly to divide Americans and distract from his criminal failures on COVID. From Lafayette Park in Washington D.C. to Portland, we’ve seen contempt for the constitution, civil liberties and democratic norms that I wish I could call shocking, but that is no surprise from an administration that seems to know no floor. King County will stand with our cities, our people, and the rule of law to resist this abuse of authority.”
Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said, “I am profoundly concerned regarding potential actions federal agents might undertake against Seattleites this weekend, which necessitated our letter seeking clarification. If federal agents are simply there to protect federal property, that’s their right, but if they begin enforcement actions on non-federal property, we are prepared to swiftly turn to our federal courts for action.”
“Federal agents have limited authority in a local jurisdiction to protect federally owned property,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney, Dan Satterberg. “They have greatly exceeded that power in Portland to the detriment of the people of that community. Local federal agency heads have promised us that they would not let that happen in Seattle, and they must keep those commitments or be held to account in Federal Court.”
The letter also states, “We are concerned that the influx of federal personnel to Seattle could potentially incite the very same damage to federal property that this influx is purportedly designed to prevent. Moreover, as evidenced by your continuing and escalating presence in Portland, Oregon, once such events begin, they very well could lead to more widespread problems in the Seattle and King County, thereby endangering the health and safety of our communities.”
The officials have asked that the federal officials provide a response within 24 hours, or, at the latest, Monday, July 27.