SEATTLE — Deborah Juarez (Blackfeet Nation), the first American Indian woman elected to the Seattle City Council, has become a target among protesters for her stance on defunding the city’s police department.

Juarez, who prior to being elected to the City Council served as a King County Superior Court judge, has declared she is for reducing the police department’s budget and reallocated funds for human services, but not at 50 percent as some protesters are demanding.  

“As a former King County judge, public defender and attorney with 30 years of experience, I disagree with folks who say that police violence is caused by a ‘few bad apples,’ it’s the whole tree. It’s time we plant a new tree,” Juarez wrote last month on her Facebook page.

Juarez says she is against slashing the police department to 50 percent of its current budget level because there is no plan being presented to reallocate the resources to ensure safety and protection for Seattle citizens.

Because of her position, protesters have rallied outside her home and have even vandalized the area around it. Protesters sprayed painted “corporate bootlicker” on the street in front of Juarez’s home. Using a bullhorn, some called her a “corporate whore.”

Several elected tribal officials from Washington state have come to Juarez’s defense in a statement released on Monday.

“The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe calls for the incredibly personal and targeted acts of violence against Councilmember Debora Juarez and her family to cease. Seattle’s residents should be celebrating that they have a leader who is trying to make decisions based on a reasonable and viable plan, which could be sustained over time. Councilmember Juarez is a sincere and respected elected official, and we applaud her dedication to Seattle and American Indian rights, and we stand with her because she is our sister,” said W. Ron Allen, Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

Juarez, who served Seattle as a public defender and then as a judge, has worked on behalf of the city’s most vulnerable citizens, said Chairwoman Francis Charles of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

“Indigenous women are the givers of life and the frontline protectors in tribal communities. Councilwoman Debora Juarez has dedicated her life’s work to protecting vulnerable families and communities throughout the state of Washington. The first peoples of these lands will not tolerate any hateful or dehumanizing behavior towards her or any other Indigenous woman. I call upon the Seattle City Council President to denounce the hatred and intimidation of Councilwoman Juarez at her home and to defend her honor,” Charles said in a statement. 

Suquamish Tribe Chairman Leonard Forsman says Juarez is a strong leader and is not afraid of civil debate or peaceful protest, but she, or any other elected official and their families, should not be subjected to intimidation, vandalism and threats.

“The Suquamish Tribe supports Seattle City Councilmember Debora Juarez and her right, as an elected official, to do her job without verbal harassment and vandalism at her home. Councilmember Juarez has a long history of fighting against oppression, including supporting the sovereign rights of Indian Tribes. She has supported the Suquamish Tribe’s right to self-governance and we ask that the Seattle City Council President demand that a civil discourse, free of intimidation, be conducted on the political issues facing the City of Seattle, named for our famous leader Chief Seattle,” Forsman said in a statement.

More Stories Like This

Oklahoma Legislature Overrides Governor Stitt’s Veto of Native Regalia Bill
Native Bidaské with Lummi Nation Chairman Anthony Hillaire on the Opioid Crisis
Tohono O’odham Citizen Shot and Killed by U.S. Border Patrol; FBI Investigating
Louisiana Loses a Visionary Native American Leader as Ernest Sickey Walks On at 80
First Lady Jill Biden Highlights Broadband Expansion to Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

Native News is free to read.

We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps.  Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].