The Seattle Police Department (SPD) came to City Hall Tuesday to help Council President Sara Nelson shut up her political enemies, which included asylum-seekers and their lefty allies. The groups attended the public comment period of the meeting to ask the City once again to fund housing for hundreds of Venezuelan, Angolan, and Congolese refugees who will face homelessness if they do not win more funding. 

According to SPD, police arrested and booked six protesters on suspicion of trespass. Cops also charged one of the protesters with obstruction. Over the phone, one of the jailed protesters, JD, said one of the other protesters was undocumented.

In their sweeping condemnation of the protesters, the new conservative council, who had to delay their vote to rename a street, demonstrated their intolerance for the kind of democratic participation that was pretty common before COVID-19, and that former socialist Council Member Kshama Sawant once encouraged. 

“We need to move away from this egregious and divisive rhetoric," said Council Member Rob Saka, who promised to listen to “community” while campaigning. "That might have played before in that last council. Not today. Doesn't work with this council."

At the beginning of the meeting, Nelson announced that she would limit public comment to just 20 minutes. Why? She didn’t want to hear from the people—asylum-seekers and anti-surveillance advocates—who showed up to testify at the meeting. 

The city council typically asks that commenters speak to an item on that meeting's agenda, which included a resolution to rename a street after State Senator George Fleming, the second Black senator ever elected to that body. However, with the refugees' precarious housing situation and the council's upcoming vote on wasteful surveillance technology, both issues apparently felt timely for the public regardless of what was on the council's calendar. 

Still, Nelson said she did not “really want to participate in conversation that should be had with county leaders, state leaders, federal leaders.” She reminded asylum-seekers that Tukwila already promised to pay for a new heated tent they could move into by the end of the week. Plus, King County announced a $1 million grant that will one day pay a nonprofit to house them. 

Though she tried to excuse her decision on a technicality, she still couldn’t resist taking a jab at the left in order to sell it to the normies. She accused lefty activists, particularly Stop The Sweeps, of exploiting the plight of the Tukwila refugees to advance their own anti-surveillance agenda. Her proof? Some Instagram infographics asking people to sign up for public comment Tuesday to support demands to house people and reject ShotSpotter. She called the show of solidarity “craven political opportunism.” 

Public commenters fired back. 

“I appreciate the outside agitator trope thrown out by a certain council member,” said Lauren, a regular public commenter who Nelson would probably count among the “craven.” 

Lauren explained that the group’s two demands were related. If the council spends less money on toys for cops to track residents, then they can spend more money on dignified housing for asylum-seekers and other low-income people feeling the heat of the housing crisis. That’s how budgets work. 

Lauren yielded most of her time to give more refugees a chance to speak, but only a handful of commenters, many lobbying off-topic for a repeal of Seattle's minimum wage for gig workers, spoke before the 20 minutes ran out. 

Seattle Police Captain Steve Strand speaks into a microphone as a commenter throws up a fist. Streetphotojournalism

Nelson then tried to move on to the agenda, but the public commenters begged her to keep listening to them. They chanted over her until she called for a five-minute recess at around 2:37 pm. The Seattle Channel’s feed returned briefly at 2:45 pm, but it cut out again as Nelson had not yet regained control of the council chambers. 

The live feed continued at 2:56 pm. Before Nelson ended the stream for a third time, she called for security to clear the room. She allowed members of the media and anyone who did not “contribute to the disturbance” to stay. According to eye-witnesses, six protesters stayed in council chambers against the orders of security. Others gathered outside chambers, yelling and pounding on the windows.  

At least six police officers came to remove the protesters. City Council spokesperson Dana Robinson Slote told The Stranger she did not know who called SPD, but typically security would call cops for back-up in these cases. It is unclear exactly how many people cops detained or whether the cops arrested those people and booked them into jail.

The Seattle Channel did not return to its broadcast until 4:01 pm. At that point, Nelson’s decision to ignore the asylum-seekers, ostensibly to save time, cost the council an hour and a half. 

With order restored by the violent arm of the state, Nelson said the council could continue to do the “work of the people.” But “the people” stood outside the chambers and continued to pound on the windows while yelling, “Shame on you.” 

"Shame on you," the public commenters shouted outside council chambers. Streetphotojournalism

The council tried to carry on with is business, but when Council Member Tammy Morales introduced her resolution, Council Member Cathy Moore interrupted. She said she felt physically threatened by the protesters, who she thought may break the windows. She called for the cops to arrest them, even though they left willingly when security ushered them out.  

In a statement, a city council spokesperson said “to be clear – [the] disturbance was caused by a group of protesters and not refugees.” It is not clear how the City made that distinction. 

Over the phone, one of the jailed protesters, JD, felt as if the council dismissed the concerns of the asylum-seekers and vowed to "keep holding these people to the fire" until the City finds a solution. 

Bennett, another arrested protester, said he "hates how this country treats immigrants, and that if he were a refugee he'd want people getting arrested for him.

Nelson did not respond to my request for comment, but with the council’s power to revoke public comment, who knows how inviting she will be of conversation in City Hall in the future. It is becoming more and more clear everyday that Nelson and her cronies are opposed to hearing from the left, even through the so-called appropriate channels