When Mayor Jenny Durkan (D-Seattle) finally sent police in to clear up the Capitol Hill
Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) Occupied Protest (CHOP) — perhaps better referred to as “Antifastan” (no offense to Central Asian countries) — she only acted because President Donald Trump was about to do so if she delayed. The president himself confirmed a rumor to that effect on Sean Hannity’s show Thursday night. Trump said he forced Durkan’s hand to restore law and order after antifa militants had seized territory in Seattle.
“I had a source that told me, I was not able to confirm it, that one of the reasons that the Seattle mayor finally acted is that they were given notice that if they didn’t act that you were going to. Is there any truth to that?” Hannity asked.
“A hundred percent,” Trump replied. “We were going in, we were going in very soon, we let them know that. And they, all of a sudden, they didn’t want that. So they went in before we got there.”
“But we were going in very shortly, very soon, and we would have taken the CHOP, they call it, CHOP. We would have taken it back very easily,” the president added. “But they went in and, frankly, the people just gave up, they were tired, they had it for a very long period of time.”
Later on in the interview, Trump added, “We were all set to go into Seattle. Quite frankly, I looked forward to it.”
Antifa and Black Lives Matter militants seized six blocks of Seattle in early June, dubbing the area an “autonomous zone,” CHAZ. They set up signs telling visitors they were “leaving the United States.” In doing so, they arguably acted like the Paris Commune of 1871, a historical rebellion that Karl Marx looked to as an example of the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat.”
While Trump called on Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Mayor Durkan to restore order immediately, Inslee and Durkan insisted that it would be “illegal and unconstitutional” to shut down a lawless rebellion. Durkan even insisted CHAZ could be “the summer of love.”
As Trump continued to threaten to shut down the lawless rebellion, the instigators began to change their tune. Some suggested that they never intended to break away from the United States, that the CHAZ signs had been placed around the area by those evil conservatives trying to undermine them. The “autonomous zone” became “autonomous” no more, and the occupiers renamed the area CHOP, an “occupied protest.”
The illegal rebellion and occupation derailed much of everyday life for the Seattle residents whose homes and businesses had been seized. Sixteen residents and businesses sued the City of Seattle, alleging that the city failed to protect their rights by not taking action to restore law and order in the CHOP area. In late June, two deadly shootings on two subsequent weekends took the lives of a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, both of them black.
Durkan announced that she would break up CHOP after the first weekend of shootings, but she did not send in police to restore order. Only after the second weekend of shootings did she agree to send in the police, who restored order quickly, as armed militants circled in cars with obscured license plates.
Before Trump’s interview on Thursday, it seemed Durkan had acted because the horrific deaths of two black teens forced her hands. Yet Trump finally revealed his key role in the restoration of law and order.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.