Days after antifa rioters terrorized Seattle, driving in a van full of weapons and explosives in order to set fires and attempt to blow up police departments, Mayor Jenny Durkan focused her attention squarely on President Donald Trump, accusing him of running a “dress rehearsal for martial law.” She claimed that Trump’s efforts to bolster local law enforcement to combat a rising tide of crime and violence have “decreased public safety.” In a press conference addressing the antifa riots, Durkan claimed “the president wants” the violence.
The riots on Saturday followed a protest in support of the antifa rioters in Portland, who have attempted to burn down the federal courthouse and Justice Center in nearly two straight months of violent riots. Seattle rioters used a van packed with fireworks, smoke bombs, stun guns, bear and pepper spray, gas masks, and more. At one point, rioters set off an explosive that blew an 8-inch hole through a wall of the Police Department’s East Precinct, the Seattle Times reported. Rioters have injured 59 police officers.
Durkan focused her ire on Trump.
“I hate to say it, but it looks like this president is doing a dress rehearsal for martial law, sending in federal forces to take over police duties in city after city for political purposes,” the mayor told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday. “It is frightening and it’s making things worse. It has not improved public safety, it has decreased public safety.”
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan: "I hate to say it, but it looks like this president is doing a dress rehearsal for martial law." pic.twitter.com/AUHkb82wPC
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) July 28, 2020
Antifa Rioters Fire Mortars at Seattle Police Stations, Smash Windows at Amazon, Starbucks, Walgreens
Last week, President Trump announced he would send federal officers to help fight a crime wave in American cities in an effort dubbed “Operation Legend.” The name honors four-year-old LeGend Taliferro, who was shot and killed while he slept on June 29 in Kansas City. Trump originally mentioned Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M., but on Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced that federal officers would also bolster local police in Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee.
A majority of likely U.S. voters support Operation Legend (55 percent), according to a recent Rasmussen poll. However, Democrats have framed the issue as an “invasion,” an “occupation,” or — in the words of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a dispatching of “stormtroopers.”
Yet it seems Seattle could really use the help when it comes to combatting dangerous antifa rioters. In a press conference on Wednesday, Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best fleshed out just how dangerous Saturday’s riot truly was.
During the riot, police spotted a van following a group of rioters and stopping just outside the East Precinct. At about the same time, explosions started going off outside the precinct. A witness later told police he or she had seen baseball bats and explosives inside the van earlier in the day.
Police impounded the van. After obtaining a search warrant, they discovered “firework pyrotechnics, smoke bombs, stun guns, bear and pepper spray, makeshift spike strips and gas masks,” the Seattle Times reported.
Best expressed the obvious, saying the van provided “evidence that not everyone who comes to these protests [is] peaceful. Peaceful protesters do not show up in a van full of … explosives.”
Durkan later insisted that most of the crowd protested peacefully, but even she admitted that the antifa rioters seemed “well-organized with this kind of destructive power.”
Police also found remnants of a Molotov cocktail that had exploded near a juvenile detention facility that is still under construction.
The bear spray “is causing burns and itching and stinging to (officers’) face and exposed skin,” Sgt. James Lee, who works with the city’s arson/bomb squad, said at the press conference. “This lasts much longer than the … type of pepper spray that police use and is much stronger. It is not safe for use on humans.”
Best reported that 59 police officers suffered injuries during the protests.
Despite all this heinous violence, Durkan hailed an “historic civil rights reckoning,” claiming that “peaceful protests are good for America and good for our city. They push us to be better. They are a core tenet of who we are as a country.”
The mayor did deign to condemn the “arson, destruction and violence,” claiming that they “undermine the push and need and voice for systemic change.” She urged peace instead, claiming that the violence is “sowing those divisions that the president wants” and “playing right into his hands.”
When rioters are terrorizing a city, setting off bombs and lighting bonfires, perhaps the mayor should focus on countering the ideology behind the rioters, rather than demonizing the president, who is offering to send federal officers to help combat violent crime.
During the riot, the mob set fire to a Starbucks.
It’s not a peaceful protest in Seattle. The crowd are the aggressors. They set fire to a Starbucks right before this. pic.twitter.com/JVIiCxCPut
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) July 25, 2020
Rioters also allegedly attacked business owners and pedestrians.
Antifa is randomly attacking tons of people—pedestrians, business owners—in Seattle. George Floyd would be proud. pic.twitter.com/ij7XlsJKIX
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) July 25, 2020
During the previous weekend, antifa rioters tore a devastating path through Seattle, smashing windows at the municipal courthouse and at various businesses — including storefronts for Amazon Go, Starbucks, and Walgreens — they targeted both the West Precinct Police Station and the East Precinct Police Station (the site of the Capitol Hill
Autonomous Zone Occupied Protest last month). They fired mortar-style fireworks at both stations, causing a fire in the East Precinct station.
It seems Durkan agrees with the leftist worldview behind the riots, but that doesn’t mean she has to focus her energy on demonizing the president. How does her fearmongering about Trump supposedly planning “martial law” concretely protect any of the citizens of Seattle?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.