The Seattle Democratic Socialists of America Steering Committee calls for Danny Fetonte to step down from his position on the DSA National Political Committee.
An overwhelming number of our delegates and members, as well as comrades across the country, were rightfully disappointed and concerned when they learned that Fetonte had omitted his history of working as a police union organizer. While we have great respect for Fetonte’s lifelong commitment to organizing workers, we believe that police and their unions are fundamentally oppressive forces in our society. Since the founding of Seattle DSA, our platform has included a commitment to prison abolition and ending police violence.
Since we are, as an organization, committed to the principles of restorative justice, organizing for a police union is not itself a disqualification from leadership. Had Fetonte been forthright about this part of his past, much of this crisis could have been avoided. His failure to do so reflects either a lack of awareness that this could be troubling for many members, or an acute awareness that disclosure could harm his candidacy for the NPC. Neither option is a satisfactory explanation for a national leader.
In response to nationwide outrage from members, the Interim Steering Committee issued a statement assuring the membership that they heard and felt their concerns, and were continuing their investigation to determine whether the line had been crossed between omission and deception. This was an admirably measured statement that properly acknowledged the issue while not demonizing any parties involved.
At this point, had Fetonte released a conciliatory statement acknowledging that he had left many members feeling deceived, much good will could have been retained. As a longtime organizer and self-professed supporter of police and prison abolition, Fetonte should have recognized that this was a matter to which membership was particularly sensitive. In this case, recognizing that he had violated members’ trust would have been a strong display of leadership.
Instead, Fetonte chose to attack the Interim Steering Committee and dismiss members’ concerns as “wide distortions, half-truths, and made up web information.” This decision to inflame the crisis reflects a lack of concern for the well-being of DSA as a whole and an absence of good judgement necessary for effective and accountable leadership.
For many of us, the convention we just attended was a transformational experience where lifelong commitments were born. Passing the resolution in support of prison abolition, submitted by one of our own local members, was an important part of that experience. But instead of bringing this spirit and determination home to our chapters, much of our energy has already been spent addressing this issue. Rather than our convention serving as a beacon for recruitment, we have each spent far too much time assuring existing members that they need not question our organization’s commitment to justice.
Fetonte has violated members’ trust and failed to make amends for that violation. We encourage him to continue the organizing work that has earned the respect of so many of his comrades, but if at this time he cares enough about DSA to lead it, he ought to also care enough to step aside.
Seattle DSA Steering Committee