Seattle Seahawks

DuPont mayor changes stance on Seahawks rally

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas bows his head as he stands arm-in-arm with teammates and team staff during the national anthem before Sunday’s NFL season opener against the Miami Dolphins at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Seahawks safety Earl Thomas bows his head as he stands arm-in-arm with teammates and team staff during the national anthem before Sunday’s NFL season opener against the Miami Dolphins at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. toverman@theolympian.com

The mayor of DuPont now says he’d be willing to reschedule a city-sponsored Seahawks rally that he canceled last week.

Mike Courts canceled the Hawks portion of the Saturday event — which included a barbecue and the opening of a dog park — because he believed last week “that there were indications” the Seahawks’ players had a “deliberate plan that’s disrespectful” to the flag for Sunday’s game.

He said he didn’t want to use city funds to celebrate such players.

But having watched on TV what actually happened as Seahawks players, coaches and support staff stood with arms interlocked for the national anthem, Courts found them “respectful.”

Meanwhile, the town is feeling social-media heat, and some City Council members are upset because Courts never consulted them about the cancellation.

“I thought it was grandstanding,” says Councilman Mike Gorski, an engineer. “I thought it was inappropriate. This is a pretty innocuous event for citizens.”

Shawna Gasak, a council member and a mortgage-loan officer, said about the mayor: “He threw the city into fray. That’s not for him to do. That’s not the whole city’s opinion.”

Gorski says the mayor made a decision “about something that had not yet occurred.”

Courts says he made his decision based on Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane sitting during the anthem during the team’s final exhibition game at Oakland. Lane said he was showing solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick by not standing for the national anthem.

After that, Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin tweeted Thursday, “To express a desire to bring people together, our team will honor the country and flag in a pregame demonstration of unity.”

Courts was asked if perhaps he had been too hasty.

“You make your decision on the best information at the time,” he said Sunday.

Courts, 57, is a retired Army colonel who served for 30 years, including two deployments each in Bosnia and Iraq. His official Facebook page features a giant U.S. flag.

He says he likes living in a town that’s “70 percent military, 30 percent active and 40 percent retired military.”

The council members say they have been receiving “very unpleasant emails” to their council account.

The mayor’s official Facebook page certainly was getting responses, many not exactly supporting him:

“How do these asinine human beings get elected to office?! This guy hits rock bottom with ideas, but then he finds a shovel.”

“Are you saying you did the right thing or are you just unable to admit fault?”

“How could you make decision as a mayor based on little to no information as to what the team was actually planning to do? Not very mayoral.”

Asked about how this has played out for the city, Gorski said, “You can’t unring a bell.”

Courts declined further comment Monday, saying he felt it was now appropriate for his and the city’s “role in this discussion (to) fade.”

“Any further discussion will take place at the City Council meeting (Tuesday) at 7 p.m. in the DuPont council chambers,” he wrote.

News Tribune staff writer Brynn Grimley contributed to this report.

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