SEATTLE - Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan continues to be lambasted for a June 11 interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, during which she suggested the occupied protest around the city’s east police precinct could simply be a “summer of love.”
The remark has not aged well.
In the ten days since her comments on CNN, the zone referred to as CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest) has seen several serious and violent crimes, including an attempted arson, multiple assaults captured on video, and the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old.
Republicans – including the President – have painted the mayor’s remarks as tone-deaf, considering the public safety implications of what protesters call a “cop-free zone.”
“These Liberal Dems don’t have a clue,” President Trump said in a June 12 tweet, responding to the mayor’s comments. “The terrorists burn and pillage our cities, and they think it is just wonderful, even the death. Must end this Seattle takeover now!”
In an interview Thursday, prior to the deadly shooting in CHOP, Mayor Durkan acknowledged her poor choice of words.
“I clearly said that in jest, it probably was not the smart thing to do,” she said.
But Durkan said she believes critics ignored the totality of her remarks.
“It was not the best choice of words, but immediately after that, I clarified and qualified it,” she said.
In reality, Durkan contextualized her “summer of love” statement only after CNN’s Cuomo scoffed at it:
Chris Cuomo: “How long do you think Seattle and those few blocks look like this?”
Mayor Jenny Durkan: “I don’t know. We could have the summer of love.”
Cuomo: “Tell that to the police who are supposed to be in that precinct though. But I understand your sentiment mayor. I wish you well. We’ll stay on this story. You’ll always have this platform to talk about it.”
Durkan: “Hey Chris. The police will be policing in there. I want to be very clear on that. Our chief of police was in there assessing today. We take public safety very seriously. We met with businesses and residents today. We don’t have to sacrifice public safety for First Amendment rights. Both can exist and we’ll make sure that both exist in Seattle.”
Given shootings in and around CHOP this past weekend, it is clear the city is struggling to maintain public safety while allowing the occupied protest to continue. In a written statement released Sunday, Mayor Durkan doubled down on her belief that the city can allow CHOP to exist safely.
“In the coming days, I believe together we can create a Capitol Hill environment that allows for peaceful demonstrations at Cal Anderson, quality of life for residents, and take concrete steps towards a new vision for policing in our City.”