Leaders of Sawant recall campaign accuse opponents of harassment

SEATTLE — Leaders of the campaign to recall Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant are accusing their opponents of harassment as they try to gather signatures.

A volunteer says a petition was ripped from her hands, and surveillance video the campaign shared with KIRO 7 shows a man ripping a large “Recall Sawant” sign from a fence.

[DOWNLOAD: Free KIRO 7 News app for alerts as news breaks]

When the campaign sent out postage paid envelopes with petitions to sign, they got at least 200 back filled with anything but.

Recall Sawant campaign manager Henry Bridger says some envelopes contained feces.

“They’ve been stuffing envelopes with all kinds of stuff. One had writing on it that said, ‘now that you’ve touched this, smell your hands,’” said Bridger.

Volunteer Barbara Baer said she was gathering signatures last Sunday when she was harassed.

“She grabbed my clipboard and took it from me and ripped everything up, which included a petition with a signature on it,” said Baer.

“They think that we’re taking away their vote because they’ve voted for her and she’s won three times. But they are actually doing that to the voters themselves by harassing our volunteers,” said Bridger.

In response, the Sawant campaign pointed KIRO to an email sent to its supporters.

“It’s beyond hypocritical for the Recall to speak of ‘intimidation’…Kshama regularly receives threats of violence for standing up for working people,” it said.

[SIGN UP: KIRO 7 Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Baer, who lived in Seattle for a dozen years but has since moved, said she still feels a connection to the city. She now comes from the Eastside to volunteer for the recall campaign.

“I am committed to doing this. My family sometimes wonders,” said Baer.

Campaign leaders said they have tried to refer some of the incidents to Seattle police, but SPD has simply told them that they are too busy to investigate.