Someone with access to a Seattle Fire Department email address sent threatening emails to Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, she said Tuesday, when she urged city officials to investigate.
The emails Sawant received between December 17th and January 18th are both threatening and threatening.
“The time has come,” the emailer wrote on Monday, according to the emails from Sawant’s office. “Announce your resignation now, or else.”
“When you know what’s good, you know it’s time to go,” one person wrote in December. “If you need help leaving, jump head first from the top floor of your building. I’ll even push you. “
In a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, fire chief Harold Scoggins, interim police chief Adrian Diaz and the leadership of the local fire service union, Sawant demanded that the emails be investigated and taken seriously.
“I believe these emails must be very much given the current political context with an encouraged right wing nationally, the specific threatening content of the emails, and the fact that they came from a Seattle city email account be taken seriously, “wrote Sawant. “There should be a thorough investigation into this matter immediately, especially given the possible link between these emails and the far-right protests slated for Biden’s inauguration.”
Sgt. Randy Huserik, a spokesman for the Seattle Police Department (SPD), said they had been briefed on the threats Tuesday night and had immediately opened an investigation.
“The SPD takes threats against officials – and all hate speech – very seriously, so the investigators in the ministry’s intelligence department are now working to identify a potential suspect,” wrote Huserik in an email.
Kelsey Nyland, a Durkan spokesman, said all serious threats to elected officials are being investigated by the SPD.
“Over the past year, Mayor Durkan and many elected officials have faced an exponential increase in death threats, vandalism and targeted hate speech,” Nyland wrote in an email. “Mayor Durkan has consistently denounced all violence and hate speech against elected officials and small businesses. Violent threats, vandalism, and misogynistic and homophobic hate speech are not acceptable in our community. “
Sawant is now fighting to recall her from office, in part due to her participation in a protest at Durkan’s house last summer. Durkan’s address is protected by a government confidentiality program because of her work as a federal prosecutor.
Sawant said after telling fire management about the emails last month, she received a brief message from Helen Fitzpatrick, the department’s administrative director.
“We were made aware that you may have received multiple e-mails via Outlook on December 17 and 19 from the e-mail address of a Seattle Fire Department employee,” Fitzpatrick wrote on December 31, according to the notice from Sawant. “The SFD employee claims he didn’t send the emails.”
Fitzpatrick said they are “currently investigating”.
Sawant was incredulous. How is it possible, she asked in her letter, that the e-mails “may continue”?
“If the employee is supposed to believe they didn’t send the threatening emails, hasn’t the department made any effort to secure their account?” Asked Sawant. “Wasn’t the employee even asked to change their password?”
She said she also addressed her letter to Durkan and Diaz because “the fire brigade apparently did not take this matter seriously”.
“The Seattle Fire Department opened an internal investigation when it became aware of several threatening emails sent to Councilor Sawant from a department email address,” said Kristin Tinsley, spokeswoman for the Seattle Fire Department.