At this point, it’s no longer a question of how to end Seattle’s brief experiment in armed anarchy. It’s a question of who will step up to end it. The father of a teenager murdered last weekend in the CHAZ/CHOP occupation area wants the National Guard to restore order before more people get murdered in the lawless zone:
Horace Lorenzo Anderson stood in the embrace of Andre Taylor, a leader in the local anti-police violence movement.
Anderson was there to shine a light on the murder of his 19-year-old son and namesake, who was shot and killed inside the CHOP zone last weekend.
He says the zone should go.
“This doesn’t look like a protest to me no more,” said Anderson. “That just looks like they just took over and said we can take over whenever we want to.” …
Anderson thinks the National Guard should be asked to return.
“They should deployed them here to say ‘Man, it’s time to go,’” said Anderson. ” ‘It’s time to move on. And break this up.’ “
It will take a show of force, one expert told KOMO today, and maybe more than a show. At this point, the amount of force necessary might exceed what the Seattle Police Department can deploy — or will have the authority to use. For one thing, a police officer said, the ban on teargas makes actual violence a lot more probable:
Jesus Villahermosa is a retired sergeant with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and has been considered a use of force expert for decades.
“I just think there’s going to have to be action that is taken at some point if there isn’t a breakthrough,” he said.
And that action, to Villahermosa, involves using force. …
“I really believe at this point, the protesters have really forced the hand and we’re going to have to use force,” Villahermosa said.
But, according to Seattle Police Officer’s Guild president Mike Solan, the inability to use things like tear gas limits what can be done.
“The only option now is to use our physical bodies and our baton to hold people back,” Solan said.
The problem for the Seattle police isn’t their tactics or strategy. It’s the city leadership provided by Mayor Jenny Durkan, and for that matter the leadership provided by Gov. Jay Inslee. The time for taking back the CHAZ was at the moment the barricades began going up. Mayor Ted Wheeler had to show that kind of firmness twice in Portland, Oregon, and it paid off. Protesters still threw tantums (and Molotov cocktails), but civic authority prevailed, and so did governance to all of Portland’s citizens.
It has become clear that Durkan lacks the intestinal fortitude necessary to bring this violence to an end. Police Chief Carmen Best all but called Durkan a coward in public yesterday, and still Durkan refuses to act with any firmness at all. She apparently wants to wait until the CHAZians get tired and go home, but how many Seattle residents have to die for that strategy? How many have to remain hostages to an anarchic mob? It will take the National Guard under the leadership of Inslee to order an end to the CHAZ, because if Durkan orders the police to do it, it’s pretty clear she’ll quail at the first sign of resistance — again.
Former federal prosecutor Gregory Wallance warns cities that this is a preview of what “defund the police” will produce for them, too. And not just in terms of violence and anarchy either:
Last week, businesses and residents in CHOP filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city of Seattle alleging that the city’s “unprecedented decision” to abandon an entire city neighborhood has caused damage to their property and threatened their safety.
The complaint stresses the plaintiffs’ support for free speech rights and the work of Black Lives Matter but reveals urban dystopia in CHOP much closer to the movie “Escape from New York” than the communal days of Woodstock. According to the complaint, the CHOP activists used concrete barriers left behind by the police to blockade the neighborhood to police cars, garbage and recycling pickup trucks and other vehicles. Armed activists sometimes decided who could enter CHOP. The police stopped responding to emergency calls except those involving the most serious safety threats, and even then the responses were slow. Incidents of arson and assault went without a police response.
One weekend three people, all black men, were shot in CHOP and one died. When the Seattle police showed up, they were prevented by CHOP protesters from quickly reaching one of the victims. In the absence of police investigators, private individuals took it on themselves to search for bullet casings. So far no one has been charged in the shootings.
Garbage piled up; graffiti covered store fronts; music and fireworks prevented residents from sleeping; and the local park became a drug use haven. People on crutches who needed physical therapy could not get to their therapist in the CHOP zone because of the barricades. A maintenance worker who tried to remove graffiti was threatened. Employees of local businesses stopped coming to work because they did not feel safe, which financially jeopardized their employers. Residential condominiums had to hire armed guards. On Monday morning, there were two more shootings, leaving one dead and a 14-year-old in critical condition.
And it’s coming soon to a city near you as well, at least if local civic leaders think appeasement works when dealing with mobs. Wheeler, at least, proved Wallance’s point in Portland, which is that you can’t have reform in the midst of anarchy. All that a vacuum of authority and law begets is more violence — and then the need for even more violence to end it. That’s precisely where Durkan and Inslee have left Seattle, and maybe that will be a lesson to voters that elections really do matter. The next time out, they should find candidates with more fortitude and more commitment to the rule of law rather than pandering to mobs.