Self-proclaimed Socialist, Kshama Sawant, sitting Seattle City Councilmember, released a statement on Thursday in response to the resigning of the city’s Chief of Police, Carmen Best.
The statement was deeply critical of Chief Best, condemned nationwide law enforcement agencies and the entire system of capitalism for the sufferings of the poor and minorities, and called on Seattle to continue to fight for major, socialist reforms to city policies.
“Best was never a reformer,” Sawant wrote in Thursday’s statement. She said this was all too clear in Best’s decision “to retire now rather than to carry out the reforms demanded by the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Among those demands, best articulated by movements King County Equity Now and Decriminalize Seattle, include a 50% defunding of the Seattle Police Department and the release of all arrested protestors cleared of all charges.
In a deeply anti-cop, anti-capitalist paragraph, Sawant boldly stated:
“Best’s actions were guided at all times by her loyalty to the status quo and willingness to carry out the role of the police under capitalism: to defend the system’s deep inequality through ongoing repression of the poor, the marginalized, and communities of color.”
“This creates a culture in police departments of racism, and of anti-poor, anti-working-class sentiments,” she continued. “The fact that Best is herself Black did not change that underlying reality.”
“This is not a case of good and bad apples – the whole tree is rotten,” Sawant said of the police department. “The police and the state under capitalism enforce the interests of the billionaire class.”
Sawant’s statements come after great respect has been paid to Chief Best for her 28 years of service in the Seattle Police Department, including words of warmth from Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan:
“…Chief Best has been one of those leaders that has shown up and shown what she is made of,” Durkan tweeted. “I will freely admit that I wish she were staying on, and that I asked whether she would.”
Today is a sad day for Seattle in a hard, hard year. For the past 30 years, Chief Best has been one of those leaders that has shown up and shown what she is made of. I will freely admit that I wish she were staying on, and that I asked whether she would.
— Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) August 11, 2020
Sawant’s statement concluded with an rallying cry to Seattle to continue fighting for socialist demands in massive police and community organization reforms.
She looked to the 2021 budget, saying that “the pressure of a broad, multi-racial movement rooted in addressing the burning needs of working-class Black and Brown communities will be absolutely crucial in whether we win a 50 percent defunding and far-reaching reforms of this racist police department…”