NOW she tells us. When Mayor Jenny Durkan (D-Seattle) finally ordered police to clear out the antifa instigators in the Capitol Hill
Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) Occupied Protest (CHOP), which has been dubbed “Antifastan” (no offense to Central Asian countries), her order made some very fascinating observations about the occupation she had allowed to fester for three long weeks. As it turns out, a lawless rebellion protest/anarchist commune might be bad for… public health and safety. Specifically, CHOP appears to have caused both a crime wave and an uptick in coronavirus cases amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
But don’t take my word for it. This admission about the terrifying effects of lawlessness in downtown Seattle comes from the lips of the very public official who put up with it for so long — and who defended CHOP when President Donald Trump called on her to restore law and order.
Durkan, in justifying her executive order finally clearing out the occupation, made some rather harsh admissions.
“After significant national attention, many protesters have left the area but the conditions in the Cal Anderson Park Area have deteriorated to the point where public health, life, and safety are threatened by activities in and around this area,” Durkan’s order states. The order lists a few key facts, including the three tragic shootings on June 20, 22, and 29, which claimed the lives of two black teenagers and left more wounded.
During the first of these shootings, the order notes that “first responders from the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police Department were denied safe access to the area by hostile crowds, including armed individuals, and obstructions.”
While these shootings represent the worst of the tragedies, they fail to capture the horrifying CHOP crime spike.
The crime wave
“In addition, SPD has received numerous reports of narcotics use and violent crime, including rape, robbery, assault, and increased gang activity,” Durkan’s order states. “An increase of 525%, 22 additional incidents, in person-related crime in the area, to include two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings) between June 2nd and June 30th, 2020, compared to the same period of time in 2019.”
Durkan had originally defended the CHAZ as a peaceful protest that had the potential to become a “Summer of Love.” Yet it seems patently obvious that a violent occupation — which began with antifa and Black Lives Matter militants seizing control of a police station and the surrounding six blocks — would descend into lawlessness. Durkan could have prevented this tragic turn of events by restoring law and order in CHAZ from the get-go.
This crime spike alone would justify retaking the CHOP zone, but Durkan’s order lists many other reasons.
“Residential [sic] and businesses in the area have documented incidents of harassment, graffiti, noise disturbances, and obstruction of vehicular traffic to residences and places of business, and multiple lawsuits and claims have been filed against the City by residents and businesses impacted by the activities in this area,” the order adds, referencing recent lawsuits. “Significant damage has been caused by those remaining unlawfully in the area to City property, including Cal Anderson Park and the East Precinct facility.”
It seems Cal Anderson Park also has strategic importance for Seattle’s water system — yet another fact that should have led Durkan to act at the beginning of the CHAZ occupation.
“Open fires and vehicles on the reservoir are placing important regional water infrastructure located within Cal Anderson at risk,” the order adds.
CHOP spread coronavirus
Then comes the coronavirus angle.
“An alarming recent rise in COVID-19 numbers across the region, coupled with a lack of social distancing in this area, and the daily attraction to this area of outside individuals place the neighborhood at opening businesses at increased risk for outbreaks,” Durkan’s order states.
Huh. A group of rioters gathering together, camping out, forming mobs to take over six city blocks, and engaging in all sorts of lawlessness in a global pandemic is a bad idea? Who knew? Many left-leaning politicians, journalists, and even public health officials have insisted that the George Floyd protests and other mass demonstrations would not spread the coronavirus, but at least Jenny Durkan appears to have had the good sense — in this one moment — to admit that mass demonstrations are a wee bit problematic in the age of social distancing.
It’s amazing what liberal politicians will admit when they have no choice but to restore law and order.
CHOP’s assault on… Parks and Recreation
Durkan admitted some other important facts in her order.
It turns out that antifa and other occupiers might have violated Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Code of Conduct…
Ongoing violations of the Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Code of Conduct have been observed, including camping and parking in the park, conduct that unreasonably deprives others of the use of parks, disrupting Seattle Parks and Recreation business, dumping trash and/or creating unsanitary conditions or health hazards that violate public health rules, behaviors that impede restroom use; urinating or defecating, except in designated restroom fixtures, blocking entrances, exits, fire exits, disabled access areas, public walkways; conduct that creates an unreasonable and substantial risk of harm to any person or property, and abusive and harassing behavior.
When lawless rioters take over an area of public land, they not only deprive locals of their rights but they also wreak havoc on a system specifically designed to serve the public. Ironically, the antifa leaders of CHOP claimed that they had finally returned the East Precinct police station to the “Seattle people.” In reality, they transformed that station and much of the area into a worthless hellhole that damaged public health and safety.
The police department and Cal Anderson Park served vital functions in Seattle, and the CHOP zone included the homes of many Seattle residents who are also United States citizens. CHOP denied them their basic rights, and Seattle aided the rioters in that effort.
A park specifically designed to accommodate disabled people was co-opted to serve rioters and exclude members of the public. The police station that guaranteed law and order and helped the Fire Department safely tend to victims in emergency situations was knocked out of service. All kinds of crime increased. Finally, a global pandemic made inroads among the citizens of Seattle thanks in part to the lawless CHOP occupation.
Seattle residents should be absolutely furious at Jenny Durkan. Much of this could have been predicted, and President Trump warned her to take back her city. Yet she waited weeks. Last week, Durkan pledged to retake the CHOP after two shootings, but her weak efforts failed.
Even as police finally restored law and order, antifa rioters threatened a “rude awakening” for the “pigs” who broke up the CHOP zone. It seems the lawlessness is far from over, and Jenny Durkan will go down in history as the one who abetted this dangerous occupation.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.