A chunk of Seattleites recognize Mike Solan as the head of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild (SPOG)–the union that represents sworn police officers in Seattle–but the devil really is in the details. He’s violated the police manual on multiple occasions. As such, the city has both the right and obligation to seek his removal.
Just take a scroll through his Twitter account, established February 2020. Like any good Trump Boomer, he fills it with “ANTIFA” in all caps, retweets of far-right liar and milkshake enthusiast Andy Ngo, plethora of awkward hashtags, and more that I’ll dive into later.
Solan praised Trump’s failed and unconstitutional deployment of federal troops when they invaded Seattle’s sister-city, Portland. I repeat: Solan praised sending secret police taking protestors off the streets in unmarked rental cars and shooting unarmed protestors in the head with rubber bullets. Before a flood of lawsuits forced Trump to withdraw troops, Solan called the brutal crackdown a “success” and thought it would be A Very Good Idea™ to deploy the tactics here.
Mike Solan won his position as the SPOG president with an incredible 70% of the vote–well, of the 750 who voted anyway; there’s 1,250 in the guild. His campaign slogan “It’s time to get serious” eerily echoes Donald Trump’s advice to police officers when he said, “Please, don’t be too nice” while making arrests.
He has explicitly stated that he feels police are “under unreasonable levels of scrutiny both locally and nationwide”–despite the fact that there’s been only 12 days so far this year where police haven’t killed someone.
Solan also dog-whistled the far-right’s favorite anti-semitic George-Soros conspiracy theory. If this isn’t clear by now, the SPOG President is a little piece of the Trump cartel, carrying the brain-worm to the head of the most heavily-armed para-military force in Seattle.
But before Solan called for Seattle residents to be kidnapped off the street by militia in unmarked vans, and even before letting the city know SPD wouldn’t stop gassing the city or choking people to death, he opposed the popular police reform bill I-940. He pointed to his failed fight against I-940–that is, against slightly lowering the standard of “malice” people must prove police have in court and maybe training police better–as a praise-worthy notch in his resume. Even since before I-940 passed, he’s been repeating the same talking point: there’s nothing wrong with the police, it’s all the fake “anti-police narrative.”
Solan claimed I-940, a grassroots bill supported by almost 60% of voters in 2018, was “brought forth by unelected people that push social justice ideology.” Hm. Wonder what type of ideology Solan pushes. Strange how he, someone who wasn’t elected by Seattle or Washington residents, claims to actually represent “the people” while demonizing wildly popular and elected city council members as activists who’ve somehow seized power. (Fun fact: in 2014 FiveThirtyEight reported that only 12% of SPD officers lived in Seattle. So statistically, the majority of the cops who did vote for him don’t live in Seattle either.)
It’s profoundly undemocratic (not to mention ironic) for someone in a position of immense power who was not elected to then criticize a bill voted for by the majority of people while claiming to represent the “silent majority.” I’m not saying Mike Solan is a fascist, but an unelected person claiming to represent The True People while claiming grassroots campaigns and elected representatives are part of some shady conspiracy of “activists” to seize power is deeply reminiscent of things said by fascists. What is that “activism” he’s talking about? Oh right, it’s called “voting.” And he seems to be against it. Or, at minimum, likes lying about it.
The then-SPOG-candidate also made a campaign video of a last-minute ‘news conference’ he held the year prior, during which he declared a then-under-investigation death-by-police justified.
He also spoke at the Koch-brother-funded and conservative “think tank”–more like a lie tank–Heritage Foundation. This front group directly assists the Trump Administration, vomiting lies and tweaking “data” to further the climate crisis while working against any notion it exists. Nearly 70 of their former employees now work with Trump. We’re sure Solan was happy to be one step closer to his idol. After all, he did mirror Trump’s twitter handle in creating his own.
But being elected implies accountability, and Solan is also not a fan of that. While elected representatives have come out of their houses to actually talk to protestors who show up at their houses, Mike decided to hide and tweet about “#MOB justice” and “#FalseNarratives.” Huh, interesting. #FalseNarratives sound a whole lot like #FakeNews–even if Solan is the one routinely on Sinclair’s broadcast networks.
But back to his job–I guess. Solan’s antisemitic dog whistles, far-right pandering, anti-progressive and anti-democratic rhetoric aside, he doesn’t seem to actually care about the image of SPD at all. In fact, it seems he cares too much about just his own.
If he wanted to change the narrative, he’d actually look at what people say and try to counter in some way that doesn’t just call things he disagrees with #marxism and call police accountability “#UnreasonableActivism” while referring to Blue Lives Matter and “Defend Police” as the “#IgnoredMajority.” He wouldn’t be a regular on Fox and Friends. He wouldn’t retweet far-right conspiracy theory accounts. He wouldn’t call protesters “#DomesticTerrorists.” He wouldn’t call Black Lives Matter protests “assault.” He wouldn’t defend throwing blast balls at journalists and gassing people in their homes. He wouldn’t lie and demonize a journalist for ‘not reaching out to him or SPOG’ when the journalist always does and is ignored. He wouldn’t beg for Trump’s boot on Seattle’s neck. He wouldn’t do everything in his power to accelerate the rotting of SPD’s image. If he wanted to change the narrative, he could, but he doesn’t seem to want to do that.
But it does seem he wants to join the swamp. He has inserted himself, as a lesser deity, into the festering pantheon of far-right ideologues. And that seems to be his real goal: building a career as a media personality at the expense of SPD. He’s a grifter, like the grifters he emulates, using his position for personal gain, and that is, at the very least, a clear violation of police policy and possibly against the law.
Across all of Solan’s social media, he positions his profile descriptions and all the posts therein as the mouthpiece of the union itself. The Seattle Police Manual 5.125-POL 2(1) clearly states that “Employees Shall Not Post Speech That Negatively Impacts the Department’s Ability to Serve the Public.” But his social media is full of interviews he gives with white supremacist conspiracy theorists like Tucker Carlson, and posts that violate multiple SPD polices, from 5.001(10) (Employees Shall Strive to be Professional) to his flagrant violations of 5.140-POL (Bias Free Policing) clearly equating #Marxism with “evil” and #anarchists with criminals. Since both Marxism and anarchism are political ideologies, and “Political ideology” is item 10 on the list of “discernible personal characteristics” against which discrimination is explicilty not allowed, this couldn’t possibly be a more obvious and clear cut violation of SPD policy.
One of the more chilling aspects of his social media is also more subtle. Things get dark when you look into what he likes and who he follows. This includes the obvious federal and local law enforcement agencies, individual cops, right wing media personalities, and pro-law enforcement groups. But it also includes accounts like Q-anon conspiracy theorists and armed religious fanatics whose posts he occasionally likes. But perhaps the most chilling example of his likes came from 3 days after the murder of two activists and attempted murder of a third. While Solan didn’t post or like anything the day of the shooting, he did like an Ari Hoffman post of a news story from the conspiracy rag The Post Millennial. The story claims a Seattle Antifa group was arrested in Kenosha with riot gear, appearing to justify the murders there only a few days earlier by a teenage police cadet Kyle Rittenhouse.
This tiny indication of support for murderers Rittenhouse has gotten much louder. In interviews with media, Solan threatens protesters: “If these mob individuals bring a fight to my doorstep, they better be prepared for a significant response…I think your listenership understands what I’m referring to, that if they approach my property with intent to breach the property line, with an intent to conduct criminal activity, to hurt my family, it’s a different ball game here.” It is clear Solan relies on MyNorthwest’s more conservative audience and fellow Trump supporters to read between the lines. Solan does exactly what Trump does: Incite violence by painting a group of Black-led people as more violent than they are, and broadly as “criminals” and a “mob,” seemingly for justification of causing extra-judicial harm to them regardless of what they do or do not do.
A week after the attack in Kenosha, Solan is calling for more violence against activists, this time here in Seattle. And now he’s openly threatening journalists.
Seattle City Council should take this opportunity to review Solan’s campaign and social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) behavior in light of the Seattle Police manual (especially sections 5.001-POL(13) and 5.125-POL 2(1)) and take action to de-escalate the tension between the people and SPD. In some ways, this might violate the city’s contract with the union, which states that the employer (SPD and the city) has the right to “determine reasonable rules relating to acceptable employee conduct…[including] behavior which brings discredit to the employee in his/her capacity as a police officer, the Department or the City.”
If you’re concerned with Mike Solan’s behavior, you can file your own complaint against Solan via the OPA website. While facing cuts to get the SPD budget down, consider the following proposal: fire Solan first, followed by the 40% of officers who voted for him, followed by every officer with sustained complaints of dishonesty and excessive force.
The rhetoric he spews into the far-right media ecosystem, even in press interviews, and online as a public official is reminiscent of the brain-rotten authoritarian he praises. It seems like he heard Trump’s famous call to expand police brutality and thought to himself, “I should make this the core of my platform.”
And he did. This will not get better without an intervention. It’s time to remove Mike Solan before things get any worse.