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Police investigating series of threats, hateful messages against Seattle mayor

KOMO-TV Seattle logo KOMO-TV Seattle 10/17/2020 Joel Moreno, KOMO News Reporter
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SEATTLE (KOMO) — Police are investigating a series of incidents where homophobic slurs and hateful messages are being left outside the home of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. 

Some seemed designed to intimidate or threaten.

Given that Durkan is the city's first lesbian mayor, a tag left scrawled on the street at her house Thursday night smacks of homophobia.

“This kind of vandalism, especially with the kind of misogynistic, homophobic language is completely unacceptable and crosses a line,” said Miri Cypers, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Pacific Northwest Office.

Rev. Harriett Walden with Mothers for Police Accountability calls it a chilling return to the past.

“As a product of segregation and Jim Crow, it reminds me of vigilantes by going to somebody's home,” Walden said.

In addition to threatening messages outside her home, Durkan's staff have seen an increase in threats and hateful messages via her email, swatting, social media, the mayor’s office voicemail and letters, including death threats. 

There have been so many threats against Durkan and her staff that Seattle police have streamlined the reporting process to give them a direct channel to detectives. Several messages are serious enough to warrant additional investigation, according to police.

Caption: KOMO

Determining when a threatening message is considered to be criminal conduct depends on how the victim perceives the message.

“It's not how it's said," said Jim Fuda with Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound, who thinks it would be very reasonable for Durkan to be fearful. "It's how it's interpreted."

As a former U.S. attorney, Durkan's home address had been kept confidential until Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant marched with a group of demonstrators to Durkan's doorstep this summer.

“I don't know what good can come of that and I don't know how it can advance anybody's cause,” Walden said.

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