EVERETT — Snohomish County Councilwoman Megan Dunn rebuffed allegations this week that she endorsed violence against law enforcement when she shared a post on Facebook featuring an embroidered Molotov cocktail.
She also deleted the post and apologized for it, leading the Everett police union to rescind a demand for her resignation.
Dunn, a Democrat, initially republished the image on her personal profile last week: a cross-stitch of the incendiary device bearing the slogan, “Be the light you want to see in the world.” She called it “a good reminder.”
Widely shared screenshots drew criticism from local police, conservative pundits and others, who called for her to step down.
She later said it was misinterpreted.
The post did not mention police. It did include a second image of a pro-choice author’s book, about “how conservative political operatives intentionally targeted abortion as a rallying cry for their followers as their other prejudices fell from favor,” according to a synopsis on the book’s website.
“My post of a counter-culture cross-stitch project was in no way intended as a call for violence or encouraging violence. It does not reference police or violence against police and has no imagery of police,” Dunn said on Monday at a County Council meeting.
“And it’s not representative of the council as a whole or my sentiment towards law enforcement officials,” she added. “I do not condone or support using violence.”
The controversy ignited and spread on social media, with the backdrop of months of tense Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality across the country. The vast majority of demonstrations have been peaceful. Some have been marked by violence, including in Seattle and Everett.
Local tensions over policing have risen as the county has considered spending cuts to law enforcement to offset the fiscal toll of the coronavirus pandemic, which has sent tax revenues tumbling.
Dunn, a vocal proponent of racial justice, recently signed a resolution with other council members declaring support for Snohomish County law officers in the wake of a shooting that severely wounded two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.
A union representing Everett police officers called on Dunn to step down because of the Facebook post, but rescinded that demand Monday after her apology. She should instead “work closely with line level Law Enforcement officers for solutions and understanding,” the Everett Police Officers Association said.
“The counter culture of violence against our law enforcement and law abiding citizens that we are witnessing daily can never be accepted,” the union said in a post to its Facebook page on Monday. “You MUST lead in a manner that represents ALL of US. No easy task.”
An online petition, demanding that Dunn to publicly condemn “the ongoing violence in Seattle” or resign, had garnered more than 190 signatures.
The Snohomish County Republican Party promoted the petition on its Facebook page and alleged Dunn supports “mass violence.”
Five residents who addressed the County Council on Monday maintained that she should still step down, even after her apology.
Dunn told The Daily Herald she sees the backlash as “an attack from the radical right” conflating the embroidered craft project and violent civil unrest.
“We stand behind Megan Dunn and are appalled at the harassment and the abuse that has been levied against her,” said Hillary Moralez, chairperson of the Snohomish County Democrats. “She apologized. She owned it. And she removed (the post).”
County resident Jasmine Jarrell said the fallout over Dunn’s post was meant as a distraction from conversations about whether the taxpayer money spent on policing could be better used elsewhere.
“I implore the council to stand behind the council member in this baseless attack,” Jarrell told the council Wednesday. “But more importantly, I beg you all to see the bigger picture.”
Dunn has spoken out about the need for the council to address recent calls for criminal justice reform. In step with the national “defund the police” movement, a group of public defenders called on the county over the summer to redistribute half of Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney’s budget into housing, counseling and other social services that promote community well-being.
The sheriff’s office is the largest part of the county’s general fund budget, accounting for over 40% of spending. The county jail is run by the sheriff.
County Executive Dave Somers in June announced plans to establish a community police oversight board, reform the cash bail system and equip sheriff’s deputies with body cameras. Achieving those goals will take years of cooperation with the council and other local criminal justice officials, he has acknowledged.
All county departments need to reduce expenses somewhat to offset the impact of the economic downturn on county coffers, Somers has said.
But wholesale cuts to the sheriff’s office budget aren’t likely any time soon. In the county resolution supporting police, Dunn and her colleagues pledged to “make public safety a top priority,” when devising a spending plan for next year.
Rachel Riley: 425-339-3465; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @rachel_m_riley.