Sawant Calls for Removal of Secret FBI Cameras in Seattle

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

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.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

The Monroe Correctional Complex on April 9, 2020. (Sound Publishing file photo)
Formerly incarcerated people regain right to vote in Washington

Rights restored immediately upon release.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Spring Chinook Salmon. Photo courtesy Michael Humling, US Fish & Wildlife Service
Salmon update: King County wants cleaner water, more habitat

Salmon and orcas are in the spotlight once again as King County… Continue reading

Guns seized during April 7 arrests (photo credit: Dept. of Justice)
More than 20 arrested across the Puget Sound in drug distribution conspiracy

DOJ says law enforcement agencies seized over 70 guns and hundreds of thousands in cash.

T
Sheriff’s office wants help identifying Green River killer victim

Staff reports In 2003, Gary Ridgway, Washington’s notorious Green River killer, pleaded… Continue reading

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. File photo
King County needs more lawyers to attack backlog of cases

6,107 open cases is double the normal amount for King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Public Health – Seattle & King County staff administering COVID-19 vaccine to a local emergency responder. COURTESY PHOTO, Public Health-Seattle & King County
Starting April 15, everyone 16 and older is eligible for a vaccine

Gov. Inslee said an expected increase in vaccine supply enables the state to open eligibility.

A CVS pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing
Phase Finder for vaccine eligibility to be eliminated March 31

Eligibility verification via Phase Finder no longer required for appointments, vaccinations beginning this week.

Courtesy photo
Issaquah School District settles negligence lawsuit for $4.25 million

The lawsuit alleged the district covered for a now-convicted child molester while he was a teacher.

Sound Publishing file photo
More people can get the COVID vaccine on March 31, but supply is still limited

The number of people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine is set… Continue reading

Photo via Pexels
King County residents needed for first respiratory study using Apple watches

UW study to help find if devices can detect early warning signs of acute respiratory infections, such as COVID-19 and flu.

Photo courtesy of Johnson and Johnson (jnj.com)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine halted in Washington over side effect

Following federal guidance, Washington health care providers are temporarily pausing Johnson &… Continue reading