: Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Author of Photo: Ajderrick

Jenny Durkan

  • Worked for the Obama administration as a U.S. Attorney from 2009-14
  • Served as Mayor of Seattle from 2017-21
  • Signed executive order granting free community college for all, including illegal aliens
  • Implemented strict gun-control measures
  • Supporter of sanctuary cities
  • Views America as a "systemically racist" nation
  • Supporter of Black Lives Matter

Background

Jenny Durkan was born on May 19, 1958 in Seattle, Washington, and was raised in the Seattle area along with her eight siblings. Her late father, Martin Durkan, was a prominent Washington lobbyist and state legislator for many years.

Jenny Durkan graduated with a B.A. degree in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1980, and a J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law in 1985.

After she completed her formal education, most of Durkan’s professional experience consisted of working as an attorney in private practice in the Seattle area. In the 1990s, she served one year as Executive Counsel to then-Washington Governor Mike Lowry, her father’s former campaign manager. Also around that time, Durkan established her own law office and worked as an adjunct instructor at the University of Washington School of Law. Moreover, she worked for some nonprofit organizations including the Center for Women & Democracy.

Working for the Obama Administration

In 2009, Durkan began working for the Obama administration as a U.S. Attorney in the Justice Department. This appointment made her the first open homosexual ever named as a U.S. Attorney. Durkan at one point was considered a potential successor to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, but she left the Obama administration in October 2014. From 2015-2017, she worked for the Quinn Emanuel law firm as a Partner and Global Chair of Cyber Practice.

Successful Campaign for Mayor of Seattle (2017)

In May 2017, Durkan announced her plan to run as a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Seattle. In her first campaign speech, she vowed to: (a) resist the Trump administration’s allegedly unjust immigration policies; (b) pursue bold police reforms founded on the premise that law-enforcement officers too often treated nonwhite civilians unfairly; (c) strive to reduce the wealth gap between the rich and poor residents of her city; and (d) permit the establishment of safe-consumption sites for drug addicts.

In the November 2017 general election, Durkan captured 56% of the vote to defeat fellow Democrat Cary Moon and officially become the Mayor of Seattle. She subsequently took office later that month.

Free Community College for All, Including Illegal Aliens & Targeting Nonwhites

On just her second day as Mayor, Durkan signed an executive order establishing the Seattle Promise College Tuition program, whose purpose was to make community college free for all Seattle high-school graduates, including those who were in the United States illegally. “We want to make sure our graduates know, they can go to college,” Durkan remarked at the time, adding: “Almost one of three kids of color don’t go to college at all and we want to really change that dynamic.”

Durkan Signs Gun-Control Legislation

In July 2018, Durkan signed gun-control legislation that: (a) required firearms to be “stored in a locked container” and “rendered as unusable to any person other than the owner or authorized user”; (b) mandated stiffer penalties for failure to report lost or stolen guns; and (c) imposed heavy fines on gun owners who permitted any minor or any “prohibited or at-risk person” to access a firearm which was then used for criminal activity.

Challenging Trump’s Immigration Policies & Defending Sanctuary Cities

In April 2019, Durkan authored an op-ed for The Washington Post as a response to then-President Donald Trump’s proposed plan to transport detained illegal aliens to Democrat-governed sanctuary cities as punishment for those cities’ decision to violate federal immigration laws. Wrote Durkan in that piece:

“Here’s a message to President Trump: Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees. In fact, we have always welcomed people who have faced tremendous hardships around the world. Immigrants and refugees are part of Seattle’s heritage, and they will continue to make us the city of the future.

“What does scare us? A president and federal government that would seek to weaponize a law enforcement agency to punish perceived political enemies. A would-be despot who thinks the rule of law does not apply to him….  He is demonizing immigrants and refugees to incite fear and to distract the American public from his own failures. Despite his party having control of the whole federal government for two years, Trump has utterly failed to fix our immigration system, to provide real opportunity for middle America or to improve the lives of the Americans in the places that supported him….

“This president believes that immigrants and refugees burden our country and burden cities like ours. But he could not be more wrong….

“Our city has already taken on this president and won. When Trump and the Justice Department threatened to withhold federal funding over our policies, we beat him in court. When he announced his cruel plan to separate children and families, Democratic mayors stood up to say we are better than this as a country.

“So if this president wants to send immigrants and refugees to Seattle and other welcoming cities, let me be clear: We will do what we have always done, and we will be stronger for it.”

Supporting a $15 Minimum Hourly Wage

Durkan supported a March 2020 “Pay Up” initiative by Working Washington – an organization closely allied with the Service Employees International Union — which called for a $15 minimum wage for gig workers in Seattle. “I’m grateful to Working Washington for their commitment to fighting for the rights and dignities of our gig workers,” Durkan said in a statement. “I believe that gig workers should earn the minimum wage plus expenses, and have access to worker protections that would be standard in more traditional industries.”

Portraying America As a Systemically Racist Nation & Sympathizing with BLM Rioters

Following the infamous death of George Floyd during a May 2020 encounter with a white police officer in Minneapolis, Durkan joined Democrats nationwide in denouncing the United States as a den of racial iniquity. “The cruel and degrading treatment of Mr. Floyd before his death was not only unnecessary but reflected the deep and systemic impacts of racism in our country,” she said in a statement. “It also starkly illustrates the realities that generate the fear and distrust of law enforcement experienced disproportionately by communities of color, particularly African Americans…. This is not just a Minneapolis problem. We must demand better than this everywhere in our country. It begins by acknowledging the reality of institutional racism and its insidious impacts, and then by working to eradicate it through broad cultural and institutional change.”

As left-wing activists loyal to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and Antifa engaged in widespread rioting and looting across the U.S. during the weeks following Floyd’s death, Durkan took to Twitter to “acknowledge that much of the violence and destruction, both here in Seattle and across the country, has been instigated and perpetuated by white men.” “These individuals,” she added, “experience the height of privilege and are co-opting peaceful demonstrations that were organized by and meant to center people of color, particularly Black Americans.”

In early June of 2020, after five consecutive nights of violent rioting and criminality in Seattle, Durkan told a local crowd of hundreds of protesters: “Your voices are holding me accountable, are important and you should continue to raise them….We want you to march, we want you to raise your voices, we want you to continue on the path to justice.”

BLM & Antifa Radicals Take Over a Large Swath of Seattle

In early June 2020 as well, a BLM/Antifa mob took over the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) after threatening to burn it down, and also occupied Seattle City Hall. Next, the mob announced that it was establishing an autonomous zone covering approximately six city blocks. Determined to maintain a community free of police officers, the protesters barricaded the area and commissioned armed citizens to patrol it. As one observer explained: “They bar media from entering and screen people coming in. They are walking around fully armed. Talking about making their own currency and making their own flag…. This is just like the Occupy [Wall Street] movement. Soon we will have feces and drugs everywhere and people getting assaulted and raped in the encampments.” One police officer who had been previously stationed at the East Precinct reported: “Antifa are extorting money and businesses in the Capital Hill Zone for protection money.” “Those running this Capital Hill Zone,” said another officer, “are employing stop-and-frisk to anyone who walks through, and shaking down businesses for $500 for protection.”

The radical protesters gave the name “CHAZ” (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) to their “liberated” territory in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Soon thereafter, they renamed it “CHOP” (Capitol Hill Organized Protest). They also renamed the Seattle Police Department precinct which was located within that zone as the “Seattle People Department.” Characterizing the Seattle Police Department as a “terrorist cell,” the occupiers issued a series of 30 separate ultimatums which were collectively entitled “THE DEMANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE BLACK VOICES AT FREE CAPITOL HILL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON” (capitals in original). Among those demands were the following:

  • The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police. At an equal level of priority we also demand that the city disallow the operations of ICE [Immigration & Customs Enforcement] in the city of Seattle.
  • In the transitionary period between now and the dismantlement of the Seattle Police Department, we demand that the use of armed force be banned entirely.
  • We demand an end to the school-to-prison pipeline and the abolition of youth jails.
  • We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington …
  • We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.
  • We demand that the City of Seattle make the names of officers involved in police brutality a matter of public record.
  • We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.
  • We demand decriminalization of the acts of protest, and amnesty for protestors generally, but specifically those involved in what has been termed “The George Floyd Rebellion” against the terrorist cell that previously occupied this area known as the Seattle Police Department. This includes the immediate release of all protestors currently being held in prison …
  • We demand that the City of Seattle and the State Government release any prisoner currently serving time for a marijuana-related offense and expunge the related conviction.
  • We demand that prisoners currently serving time be given the full and unrestricted right to vote, and for Washington State to pass legislation specifically breaking from Federal law that prevents felons from being able to vote.
  • We demand the abolition of imprisonment, generally speaking, but especially the abolition of both youth prisons and privately-owned, for-profit prisons.
  • We demand in replacement of the current criminal justice system the creation of restorative/transformative accountability programs as a replacement for imprisonment.
  • We demand that the funding previously used for Seattle Police be redirected into: A) Socialized Health and Medicine for the City of Seattle. B) Free public housing, because housing is a right, not a privilege. C) Public education, to decrease the average class size in city schools and increase teacher salary. D) Naturalization services for immigrants to the United States living here undocumented. (We demand they be called “undocumented” because no person is illegal.) E) General community development. Parks, etc.
  • We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.
  • We demand the hospitals and care facilities of Seattle employ black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients.
  • We demand that the history of Black and Native Americans be given a significantly greater focus in the Washington State education curriculum.
  • We demand that thorough anti-bias training become a legal requirement for all jobs in the education system, as well as in the medical profession and in mass media.
  • We demand the City of Seattle and State of Washington remove any and all monuments dedicated to historical figures of the Confederacy, whose treasonous attempts to build an America with slavery as a permanent fixture were an affront to the human race.

Durkan Likens CHAZ/CHOP to a “Block Party” Responding to America’s “Systemic Racism”

Much like the Occupy encampments of 2011, CHAZ/CHOP soon degenerated into a filthy pigsty replete with graffiti, decaying garbage, drug and alcohol abuse, and violent crime. But Durkan sought to downplay the radicalism of the occupiers. In a June 11, 2020 interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, for instance, the Mayor informed him that while she did not know how long the protesters would continue to occupy the CHAZ/CHOP area, she thought that their actions could possibly evolve into a “summer of love.” Describing the situation as “more like a block party atmosphere” than anything else, Durkan added: “It’s not an armed takeover. It’s not a military junta. We will … make sure that we can restore this. But we have block parties and the like in this part of Seattle all the time. It’s known for that…. [T]here is no threat right now to the public.”

Emphasizing the intransigent racism that was allegedly engulfing the United States, Durkan told Cuomo as well: “Remember why we’re here. You know, we’re here because the nation saw Mr. Floyd murdered, and that lit a match across this country. And we have to acknowledge and know that we have a system that is built on systemic racism, and we have to dismantle that system piece by piece. We have to empower the Black community and communities of color and we have to invest in their health, and their safety, and their education, and opportunity.”

On June 22, 2020 – after shootings within the CHOP area during June 20-21 had killed a 19-year-old and wounded a 17-year-old — Durkan again defended CHOP when she took to Twitter to assert that during daylight hours, the occupied zone was generally “a place for healing, education, and community.” She conceded, however, that “it is very different at night.” “While we believe community and demonstrators can and should continue gathering peacefully on Capitol Hill,” said Durkan, “the disorder, violence, and impacts on businesses and residents threatens to derail the CHOP’s critical message calling for justice, equality, and systemic reform. On Capitol Hill and across Seattle, we need to have true community space – with connections to community-based organizations, health clinics, and restorative justice programs – that will help us move forward together to dismantle generations of systemic racism in our City.”

Durkan Calls for the CHOP Zone to Be Shut Down

Soon thereafter, Durkan announced that because of the aforementioned shootings as well as escalating violence generally, Seattle would soon begin dismantling the “CHOP” zone.  Following that announcement, far-left Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant – a socialist who favored the defunding of the Seattle Police Department — led a protest immediately outside of Durkan’s home, angering the mayor and causing her to call for Sawant’s expulsion from the city council. In a June 30 letter to Seattle City Council President M. Lorena González, Durkan complained that Sawant had “us[ed] her official position to lead a march to my home, despite the fact that … she and organizers knew that my address was protected under the state confidentiality program because of threats against me due largely to my work as U.S. Attorney.”

CHOP was also rocked by additional shootings on June 29, which left a 16-year-old male dead and a 14-year-old male in critical condition. Thus, on July 1, 2020, Durkan issued an executive order designating the CHOP encampment as an unlawful assembly, and it was dismantled by police.

A Recall Petition to Remove Durkan from Office

In July 2020, a King County Superior Court Judge approved a recall petition seeking to remove Mayor Durkan from office. To force a recall election, the plaintiffs would need to obtain 50,000 signatures. Responding to the petitioners’ assertion that Durkan’s inept leadership was endangering the peace and safety of Seattle, Durkan’s office claimed that the Mayor “consistently has acted to protect the City’s public health and safety and to respect the constitutional rights to peaceful protestors.”

The recall petition failed to gain traction, however, as The Seattle Times explained: “The recall petition against Durkan contained a confused array of overlapping charges, all of them relating to police actions at Black Lives Matter rallies where a small number of demonstrators engaged in violent acts against people and property. The King County judge found almost all of the recall charges deficient because they dealt with ‘discretionary acts’ (policy decisions) or because they attempted to hold the mayor responsible for her subordinates’ decisions on the ground. But the judge allowed one part of one recall charge to proceed — a charge that Mayor Durkan had failed to step in and stop the use of chemical crowd control agents against peaceful protesters.”

Condemning “Systemic Racism” & President Trump’s Desire to Quell Riots with Federal Agents

After President Trump in July 2020 sent federal agents to quell violent riots in Portland, Oregon and announced that he would be willing to send thousands of additional agents into other American cities where violence was likewise running rampant, Durkan told CNN’s Erin Burnett on July 27: “We don’t need the help that the president’s offering, and, in fact, I think the president’s actions have directly escalated and were responsible for what [violence] happened this weekend [in Seattle]. Many people who were interviewed by media said they came to the protest because of what’s happening in Portland. The protest itself was billed as something in solidarity with Portland.”

Burnett then asked Durkan: “Let me ask you, mayor, because some of these images, they’re ugly. I mean, a Starbucks destroyed in the protests, a construction site for a juvenile detention facility set on fire, Seattle police say officers were burned when protesters threw explosive devices at them, and look, a lot of what’s happening here, this is not peaceful. This is just violent and destructive, and the president says he thinks mayors like you are refusing his help and those standby forces because he’s the one offering it. Does he have a point?” Durkan responded:

“No. Again, the president’s actions clearly have escalated things in Seattle, and across the country. I was just talking to a number of mayors throughout the country who saw a similar thing that — people wanting to act out against the president and his administration coming to the streets. I believe, if you look at what happened yesterday and Sunday, again, it was peaceful. We had a number of peaceful protests. And what we’ve seen is, every time this president promises to sow division, he’s successful at it. And he’s clearly targeted cities run by Democratic mayors. He’s said so himself. He’s using law enforcement as a political tool. I hate to say it, Erin, but I really believe that we are seeing the dry run for martial law. This is a president that is using law enforcement and federal forces for political purposes, and that should be chilling to every American.”

During the same July 27, 2020 interview with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Durkan also said: “And after the murder of George Floyd, millions of people turned out across this country demanding that we do better, that we dismantle systems of racial inequality and systemic racism and improve policing and provide more community health and education and everything in a community. That’s what we’re focused on here.” She further stated that “the number one thing we can do to bring peace to the streets in Seattle and across America is to bring more justice to the systems.”

In a late July 2020 appearance on MSNBC, Durkan vowed to fight any Trump administration initiative to send federal agents to Seattle. Stating that she was “looking at every option,” she said: “We have a lawsuit ready to go to file with the court that if they [the Trump Administration] even start to do actions like they’re doing in Portland, we will ask the federal court to stop them.”

Denouncing Trump’s Threat to Stop Federal Funding for Cities That Permitted Riots to Occur Unopposed

In September 2020, Durkan again condemned President Trump after he suggested that his administration might withhold future federal funding from “weak mayors and lawless cities” like Seattle. Durkan replied on her Twitter account: “This is the latest attempt to distract from the fact that COVID-19 has infected over 6 million Americans, killed 185,000 people, and destroyed the American economy….The only anarchy zone in America, where the rule of law is disregarded, is at the White House.” “President Trump cannot defund Seattle – it is unlawful,” Durkan subsequently added. “Surely the Attorney General has advised the President of the United States that he does not have the power to decide who gets funding based on his political interests.”

Later that September, Durkan wrote on Twitter: “The Trump administration’s threats to defund Seattle, Portland, and New York are a gross misuse of federal power and blatantly unlawful. Trump, the Department of Justice, and [Attorney General William] Barr’s obsession with Seattle and me is irrational and most importantly, a huge distraction…. In Seattle, we’ll remain focused on addressing the four crises in front of us: the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented economic downturn, the greatest civil rights reckoning in decades, and the continued threat of climate change.”

Durkan Seeks to Use Public Funds to Counter “Systemic Racism”

Also in September 2020, Durkan wrote an article in which she described her plan to use taxpayer money for multimillion-dollar investments that, in an effort to rectify historical racial injustices, would solely benefit “BIPOC” (Black, Indigenous, and People Of Color). Below are some key excerpts from Durkan’s piece:

“We are living in unprecedented times: a pandemic, an economic crisis, and a civil rights reckoning ignited by the murder of George Floyd. All have shown the undeniable and devastating impacts that systemic racial inequities have had on Black and Brown communities for generations. The disparities are reflected across all systems, including housing, access to wealth, education, policing, the criminal legal system and health care.

“Millions have taken to the streets across our country to demand change. We must heed their calls.

“Much of the debate has centered on the call to divest and invest. Many believe we should defund the police by 50 percent or abolish the police altogether. I have been honest in saying I do not agree. But I do strongly believe we must significantly redefine community safety by reimagining the role of police, build up community-based alternatives, and most importantly, actually invest in parts of the system that have failed our communities for far too long.

“There should be no disagreement that we need, as a City, to commit to significant, new long-term investments in Black, Indigenous and People of Color communities. In June, I promised $100 million of new investments that would be centered around and guided by community….

“[M]y proposed budget will create a new $100 million Equitable Communities Fund to address the systemic racial inequities in our city. …

“But we must do more, and proven solutions come from community itself. This is true of free transit and free college. The idea came from the young people at Rainier Beach High School and South Seattle residents.…

“[H]istory is demanding that we fundamentally reshape our budget priorities to invest in communities of color in a new way. We haven’t looked holistically at solving the deep disparities that exist in our city, and we have never given this historic level of funding to begin to solve these disparities.…

“We can show the country what it means to invest in Black Lives Matter and embark on something big together.”

On September 30, 2020, Durkan issued an executive order mandating that all departments in Seattle’s city government “support the citywide, community-led process to reimagine policing and community safety by centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities.” The objectives, said the order, were to: (a) “addres[s] the consequences of the inequities caused by systemic racism” in the criminal-justice system, inequities taking the form of “police brutality” and “violent and lethal force by police” that result in many “unjust murders of Black Americans”; and (b) “create a community safety system that does not disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities through over-policing, incarceration, and punishment.”

Mayor Durkan’s original proposal of $100 million in BIPOC investments was eventually trimmed down to $30 million by the Seattle City Council. Working with this special reserve designated solely for black, indigenous and people-of-color communities, Durkan convened the Equitable Communities Initiative Task Force in October 2020 for the purpose of recommending how to make exclusive investments in these communities. On June 3, 2021, after a series of meetings that were closed to the public, the Task Force submitted to Durkan a series of investment recommendations designed to help “build an equitable society.”

Seattle’s Violent Crime Rates Skyrocket under Mayor Durkan

Seattle experienced a 48.57 percent increase in homicides from 2019 to 2020. The city’s 52 homicides in 2020 represented its highest total in 26 years.

Nor was homicide the only form of violence to grow dramatically on Durkan’s watch. Indeed, Seattle in 2020 was statistically safer than only 2 percent of U.S. cities.

Seattle’s high crime rates were closely tied to the fact that the city lost 180 of its police officers in 2020, and another 170 in 2021 – mostly during the anti-police activism that followed the May 2020 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Moreover, Durkan’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine mandate for police officers and other first responders in the fall of 2021 contributed further to the city’s staff-shortage crisis.

As a result of these defections and firings, the number of deployable members of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) in January 2021 was just 880 — far below the 1,500-1,600 minimum that city officials said they needed.

Durkan Declines to Seek Re-Election in 2021

On December 7, 2020, Durkan announced that she would not run for reelection in 2021.

Durkan’s Successor As Mayor Says He “Inherited a Mess”

In March 2022, Seattle’s newly elected Democrat Mayor, Bruce Harrell, noted that he had “inherited a mess” from Mayor Durkan vis-à-vis the city’s rampant problems. “I’ve been on the job for about nine weeks,” said Harrell. “Yes, it seems like nine years, but nine weeks. And I did not inherit the systems that are necessary to do this kind of work.”