USA: Defend socialist councillor Kshama Sawant against lawsuit

Press conference opposing legal attempt to silence Kshama, photo by Socialist Alternative

Press conference opposing legal attempt to silence Kshama, photo by Socialist Alternative   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Freeman Ryan, Socialist Alternative (US co-thinkers of the Socialist Party)

Two Seattle police officers who shot a black man in 2016 have filed a defamation lawsuit aimed at silencing socialist city council member Kshama Sawant and any public figure speaking against police killings.

Their original lawsuit was dismissed by a judge (see the Socialist, issue 990). They have now re-filed the lawsuit, this time demanding damages be paid by the city of Seattle.

The two officers who shot and killed Che Taylor are claiming damages because their careers were affected by Kshama’s statement that the shooting was a “brutal murder”.

The two policemen shot Che in February 2016 in north-eastern Seattle after he followed orders to get down and put his hands in the air.

Andre Taylor, director of Not This Time community organisation and brother of Che, posed the issue in a very different way when he spoke at the Kshama Solidarity Campaign’s initial press conference. “These officers’ feelings were hurt, and my brother’s life was taken.”

With legal experts saying they have low odds to win this frivolous case, why are the officers re-filing it? The reasons are political. There is a strong movement against racism and police brutality in Seattle. The intent behind this lawsuit and the right-wing forces which back it is to push back against the movement by damaging the credibility of the most prominent elected official in Seattle who takes a clear stand against police brutality.

Forcing movements to spend precious dollars and time to fight lawsuits has always been among the tactics used by corporations fighting labour unions and the right-wing fighting broader progressive and radical social movements.

These attacks will not silence Kshama, who has received no funding from big corporations, and will continue to speak out against police brutality and for workers’ rights

Many community leaders have already come out to show support and solidarity for Kshama in this lawsuit.

The launch of the Kshama Solidarity Campaign will take place on 4 May. We will highlight the struggles of other activists who face intimidation, while preparing for the fight to defend one of the few public representatives willing to speak out so directly against police brutality.