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Seattle Grants Unpaid Leave to City Workers to Attend Anti-Trump Protests

Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant encouraged protesters to block freeways on May Day

The Seattle City Council passed a unanimous resolution this week which declares May 1 a “day of action” on which city employees are welcome to attend anti-Trump protests rather than going to work.

The resolution—put forward by Socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant—instructs supervisors of city departments to remind their work force that they are entitled to take two unpaid days of leave each year for “days of faith and conscience,” and that attending Monday’s protests is a legitimate use of leave under this category.

Sawant’s resolution states that through strikes and civil disobedience Seattle residents “have the power to defeat Trump’s attacks, because without workers’ mental and physical labor no business can make profits and none of the productive forces of the world can be harnessed.”

Seattle city guidelines mandate that supervisors grant request for these unpaid days off, unless the actions would put public safety at risk or cause undue hardship.

Critics of Sawant’s resolution enjoyed the irony of , the Socialist-drafted resolution of the tacit suggestion that huge number of government workers not showing up to do their jobs would not pose an undue hardship for the city. Her explicit language, however, claimed the opposite, insisting that a little hardship was necessary to move the needle. As she explained to an interviewer on King5, an NBC affiliate, “If we truly want to build a summer of resistance against Trump and the billionaire class, then we will need disruptive action like shutting down airports, and shutting down highways.”

Other Seattle government officials, while eager to endorse this “day of action,” are less enthusiastic about Sawant’s call for “disruptive action.” Mayor Ed Murray pushed back, saying, “We need to keep our freeways and our on and off ramps…the state, of course, needs to keep our on and off ramps open.” Washington State Patrol Captain Ron Mead had harsher words for Sawant, calling her rhetoric “reckless and irresponsible.” “It’s unsafe for both protesters and motorists alike, and we are simply not going to tolerate that unlawful behavior of trying to shut down the interstate or state highway systems,” he told local radio station KIRO.

Mead called it “reckless and irresponsible” for an elected official to encourage city workers and residents to engage in unlawful behavior and police provocation. Others noted that it seems pointless as an act of anti-Trump resistance, since only 8% of Seattleites voted for Donald Trump, who won a total of zero precincts in the city. Only Washington, D.C., and Detroit were harsher to the current president.

George W. Bush, by comparison, still managed to come away with 20 percent of votes from the city in 2004, suggesting that Trump is particularly anathema to Seattle voters. Given that, critics argue that there is no clear explanation for how anti-Trump protesters blocking anti-Trump commuters will thwart the president’s agenda, or lead to a “summer of resistance.”

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Emery Reddy