News & Politics

Proposed Law in Seattle Would Give Immunity for Misdemeanors to the 'Underclass'

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

It’s a little early in the day for revolution. I like to finish my coffee before being assaulted by stupidity and illogic.

But in the city of Seattle, the radicals never sleep, never let up. It’s why there’s a real danger they will win in the end and why they must be fought at every turn.

Their latest guilt-laden idiocy is to propose eliminating misdemeanor crimes for the “underclass.” Anyone who can prove they’re a victim of society receives a “get out of jail free” card.

The woke Seattle city council members refer to misdemeanors as “crimes of poverty” and want judges to throw them out.

City Journal:

This is the latest and most brazen effort in the city’s campaign to establish what might be called a “reverse hierarchy of oppression.” The underlying theory is that society has condemned the lower class to a life of poverty and stigma, which leads to addiction, madness, and indigence. The poor, in the logic of Seattle’s progressive elites, are thus forced to commit crimes—including violent crimes—to secure their very existence. Therefore, as society is the perpetrator of this inequality, the crimes of the poor must be forgiven. The crimes are transformed into an expression of social justice.

Christopher Rufo refers to the underclass as “the new untouchables.” Just what crimes would be untouchable?

On a practical level, if this ordinance becomes law, it will effectively legalize an entire spectrum of misdemeanor crimes, including theft, assault, harassment, drug possession, property destruction, and indecent exposure. Criminals must simply establish that they have an addiction, mental-health disorder, or low income in order to evade justice. The impact of this measure would be enormous. In 2019, the Seattle Police Department reported 25,993 thefts, 8,442 assaults, 6,430 property offenses, 4,194 frauds, 3,910 trespasses, and 1,640 narcotics violations—representing 72 percent of all reported crimes. If the ordinance passes, nearly all these crimes would be permitted under law.

The law would make Seattle the safest city in the industrialized world — on paper. Otherwise, not so much.

I marvel at the reasoning behind this proposed law. “Poverty made me do it” is better than the devil interceding with humanity to force people to do wrong.

The problem is that most poor people are not addicted, are not mentally ill, are not homeless, and the overwhelming majority are law-abiding citizens. If some poor people are “forced” to commit crimes to survive, how come others aren’t? Why are the majority of poor people perfectly capable of living their lives without extracting “social justice” from the rest of society?

The consequence of this measure is predictable. By dramatically reducing penalties for theft, assault, drug crime, and property crime, the city would effectively announce, “crime pays here.” With at least 90 percent of the jail population able to claim dispensation for indigence, addiction, and mental illness, the city’s criminal class could operate with impunity. Seattle’s downtown, already besieged by tent encampments and an addiction-fueled crime boom, would become a free-for-all.

Fortunately, an alert watchdog group in Seattle flagged the legislation and the Seattle Times ran an editorial against it. People were rightly appalled. But the legislation is not dead. The councilwoman pushing the scheme, Lisa Herbold, tried ramming the law through the regular budget process. Stymied there, she will now take it to the Budget Committee where it will have another life.

Someone should drive a stake through this bill once and for all.