On Monday afternoon, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) finally admitted that the Capitol Hill
Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) Occupied Protest (CHOP), or Antifastan, disrupted lives and businesses just as the coronavirus lockdowns were lifting. She announced that police would finally return to the East Precinct, two weeks after they abandoned it to the rioters. Durkan, who had hailed Antifastan as a “Summer of Love,” finally admitted that CHOP had turned violent. She could not deny the two shootings over the weekend that left one 19-year-old man dead.
Durkan condemned the “incidents of gun violence,” saying that “no violence is acceptable, and we have worked hard to address gun violence in our city, particularly youth violence.”
“Yet Saturday, a 19-year-old tragically lost his life to gun violence. As a mother of a 19-year-old boy, I cannot imagine the pain of his mother and his family. We must do better,” she added.
“While we believe individuals, organizations, and others can continue to gather on Capitol Hill peacefully, the continued disorder, the violence, and the impacts on residents and businesses are not just at odds with the message of justice and equity, they cannot continue to occur,” Durkan declared.
The left-wing mayor focused on the need to open Capitol Hill’s businesses coming out of the lockdowns, and suggested that combatting the lawlessness is important to the LGBT community.
“Capitol Hill belongs to everyone in this city, and it is of deep, deep importance to everyone in the LGBTQ community, particularly during June, the month of Pride. Businesses need to open. Many of them have barely survived the COVID shutdown and they and their employees are ready to get back to work, and they should be allowed to do so,” Durkan said. “We need to disrupt the cycle of violence.”
It seems only a liberal cause like “gun violence” could jolt the mayor out of her complacency regarding the lawless protest. From its inception, CHAZ portrayed itself as a rebellion against the United States. An “autonomous zone” is, by definition, not under the authority of a government like that of Seattle or the United States. Early signs warned visitors that they were “leaving the United States.” Disturbing reports of violence and extortion suggested various kinds of disruptive illegal activity.
The establishment of Antifastan followed looting, vandalism, and arson across America that destroyed black lives, black livelihoods, and black monuments. At least 20 Americans, most of them black, have died in the riots.
Durkan should have known that Antifastan’s lawless actions would lead to violence. She should have noticed Antifastan’s disruptive impact on the local community and the rule of law from the get-go. Businesses were struggling to re-open following the coronavirus lockdowns because of the riots, and Antifastan was a logical extension of those riots. Yet only after a man lost his life did the mayor finally admit this disruption, and even then, she suggested the culprit was “gun violence,” not the lawless actions of Antifastan.
When the Seattle Fire Department arrived on the scene after the shooting, they needed a police escort to help victims. The Antifastan protesters blocked the police, however, preventing these local services from reaching the victims.
Seattle, like the United States, is a democratic republic. Voters determine the make-up of the elected government that controls the police force and other civic functions. Yet these rebels-turned-occupiers-turned-protesters refused to work within that system, seizing city blocks and undermining the rule of law. This was a threat to the local community from the get-go, and it is utterly shameful that Durkan allowed it to continue.
Indeed, when President Donald Trump urged Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) to restore law and order, they condemned him. They said it was “illegal and unconstitutional” to put down a rebellion. Now, it appears, at least Durkan has had a change of heart.
Despite the fact that Durkan will finally allow police to return to the precinct, she insisted that the CHOP Antifastan was mostly peaceful.
“For nearly two weeks, people have been gathering on Capitol Hill. Many are there to continue their protests, to build community, and demand change. Over the days, tens of thousands of people have peacefully gathered or visited Capitol Hill. During the day, there have been no major incidents, but we know it is very different at night, particularly in recent nights,” she explained.
“The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests, and the nighttime atmosphere and violence, has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents. Most of them supported protesters’ right to gather at the outset. They stand with them in solidarity, but the impacts have increased and the safety has decreased,” Durkan admitted.
Again, the Seattle mayor should have anticipated that when a mob takes over city blocks and declares itself independent of Seattle and the United States, it is going to turn violent eventually. This lawless act disrupted local life from the get-go, as Durkan finally admitted.
The mayor’s decision to finally let the police retake their precinct is admirable, even if her tortured logic is both late and disgraceful. Police should restore order and dissolve Antifastan, and both Durkan and Inslee owe President Trump an apology for defending this lawlessness.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.