Sawant Calls for Removal of Secret FBI Cameras in Seattle

A surveillance camera at 4th and Cherry. Photo via Seattle City Council.

This afternoon Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is calling for the removal of federal surveillance cameras around the city. The cameras have been around since at least 2015, according to the Seattle Times, and last week a federal judge ruled that their surveillance footage and other information may be kept secret because it helps with law enforcement.

“It is totally unacceptable for the City of Seattle to be complicit in federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies surveilling Seattle’s public spaces,” Sawant said in a press release. “As a sanctuary city we should not be filming our general population, and we certainly should not be sending that data to law enforcement agencies now being run by the Trump administration.” Sawant says that she does not have any specific legislation yet, but wants to expand Seattle’s existing surveillance regulations so that city council has to approve every camera rather than leaving that responsibility to unelected city staff.

As we reported last week, it is not unheard of for federal and local police to surveil political activists under the guise of impartial law enforcement. Sawant says that through news reports, her staff have identified nine cameras operated by the FBI and about twenty operated by other federal agencies.

In an interview, Sawant said she’s worried about the precedent these cameras will set for Seattle and other cities. “It’s not just about technological equipment,” she said. “It’s about normalizing a Big Brother mentality.” This is especially true under the Trump administration, she said, and especially true for undocumented immigrants.

This afternoon’s council meeting begins at 2 p.m. You can watch live here.

More in News & Comment

Protestors gather at SeaTac’s Families Belong Together rally. Photo by Alex Garland
Seattle’s Separated Children

A local non-profit houses several immigrant youths who were separated from their parents at the border. But for how long?

Katrina Johnson, Charleena Lyles’ cousin, speaks at a press conference for De-Escalate Washington’s I-940 on July 6, 2017. Photo by Sara Bernard
Communities of Color Respond to Police Chief Best’s Nomination

Although its a mixed bag for some, the families affected by police shootings say she’s the best one for the job.

While King County Metro has been testing out several trial electric buses since since 2016, the agency aims to have a fully electric bus fleet by 2040. Photo by SounderBruce/Flickr
King County Rolls on With Its Electric Bus Fleet Plans

With an overhaul set by 2040, a new report shows the economic and health benefits of going electric.

Nikkita Oliver speaks at a July 17 No New Youth Jail press conference in front of the construction site of the King County Youth Detention Center. Photo by Josh Kelety
King County Youth Detention Center Moves Forward Despite Opposition

As community criticism of the project mounts, King County tries to take a middle road.

Trouble in Tacoma

A cannabis producer has been shut down for “numerous and substantial violations.”

Between Seattle’s $15 minimum wage and the new no-poach cause agreement, Washington has been leading the nation in advancing fast food workers’ rights. Photo by Fibonacci Blue/Flickr
Washington AG’s Deal Grants Mobility to Fast Food Workers Nationwide

Seven fast food chains have agreed to end no-poaching policies that economists say cause wage stagnation.

The Carlton Complex wildfire burned in north-central Washington state in 2014. Photo by Jason Kriess/Wikimedia Commons
King County Burn Ban Starts This Weekend

Other counties across the state have already enacted similar restrictions.

Numerous complaints against King County Sheriff’s deputies for issues like excessive force and improper search and seizure weren’t investigated due to internal misclassification, a new report says. Photo by Oran Viriyincy/Flickr
Report Finds Complaints Against King County Sheriff’s Deputies Weren’t Investigated

An outside review says that allegations of excessive force and racially-biased policing weren’t pursued.

Most Read