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Sue Lani Madsen: Silence on occupied Seattle area is consent to political violence

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 3, 2020

Sue Lani Madsen  (JESSE TINSLEY)
Sue Lani Madsen (JESSE TINSLEY)
By Sue Lani Madsen The Spokesman-Review

What should a mayor’s reaction be if an armed group makes a credible threat of arson against a public building? What if the city abandons the building and militants create an autonomous zone? Hypothetically, picture the South Perry District with stolen police barricades on the streets and 911 response times delayed to homes and businesses.

It’s not a hypothetical question in Seattle, it happened on Capitol Hill. If you’re Mayor Jenny Durkan being interviewed by journalist Brandi Kruse on Q13 Fox “The Divide,” you pass off the abandonment of the East Precinct cop shop as a success “because the building was not lit on fire.” And when pressed, call it “not that big a deal” and describe the armed occupiers as just a bunch of “guys my sons age eating Tim’s Chips and granola bars.”

The zone is patrolled by members of a left wing militia group (yes, there are such things) known as the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club, according to Seattle’s own left biased Daily Beast. Just like the Washington Three Percenters on the right, the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club states its aims are peaceful and focused on defensive training.

The two groups used to collaborate on Second Amendment issues, until a former longtime Gun Club member was shot and killed in the act of attempted arson at an ICE Detention Center in Tacoma in July 2019. And while Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best has admitted there are no formal complaints and only rumors of businesses in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone being shaken down for protection, the biggest shakedown already happened when Mayor Durkan caved on June 8.

Nice little precinct building you got there. Be a shame if anything happened to it.

A sign stuck on the new border reads, “You are now leaving the USA.” Autonomy was always an overreach. But someone must have noticed seizing control by threat of violence could be a treasonous offense under Article III Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. And incidentally give the president authority under the Insurrection Act to use the military to restore the rule of law. So they changed the name.

The new nickname is CHOP, an acronym for Capitol Hill Organized Protest. Or it might be Occupied Protest. There is dissension among the potato chip and granola bar eating citizens of CHOP on just what the “O” stands for, and the chaz.org website can’t decide either. How about “Opportunistic” as the Black Lives Matter message slowly drowns under progressive virtue signaling?

Democrats across Washington have been insisting it’s just a peaceful street fair in the name of social justice. In 2016, progressives were appalled when a small group held a sit-in at an isolated public building in remote eastern Oregon, protesting federal government overreach and the unjust impact of mandatory sentencing guidelines on two ranchers. Photos released by the Fish & Wildlife Service of damage to the building show general trash and disarray consistent with a 41-day sit-in and a swift departure. No violence, no threats of arson on the building, nobody got hurt.

Except for LaVoy Finicum, the white man shot and killed by a government sniper in a scene recorded on government drone footage. Justice reform matters to everyone. But that was during the Obama administration and the occupation was about the wrong BLM.

Peaceful marches following the death of George Floyd brought new attention to fears felt by many in the Black community. There’s a broad consensus we need to be talking honestly about race and our shared expectations for community policing. Starting with talking honestly about what’s happened in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where violence has been used as a political strategy.

In 2016, State Democratic Chair Tina Podlodowski was quoted in a Seattle Post-Intelligencer article about the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation. She said , “Violence has no place in our politics and anyone advocating for politically motivated violence has no place in our government.”

A National Guardsman on the scene of the violence leading up to the retreat from the East Precinct described young people in the crowd with large backpacks pulling out chunks of concrete to throw. Then there was the “credible threat of arson” cited by Mayor Durkan. This was not a spontaneous apolitical outburst.

Podlodowski used her platform to condemn Republicans. Now there is deafening silence from Democrats on the violence used to create the CHAZ/CHOP zone.

It’s just “a city’s decision to temporarily have less policing in an area,” as local Democrat Andrew Biviano described it on social media. Governor Inslee’s reaction was “it’s news to me” when asked about CHAZ at a press briefing two days after it started. He eventually criticized the occupation zone in a tweet as “unpermitted,” as if it were a local craft fair that merely forgot to get a license at city hall.

The irony of the situation in Seattle is beyond political satire. Ordinary people believe arson and extortion are the wrong way to shape government. Continued silence from the left on the violent birth of the CHAZ/CHOP zone is consent to violence as a political strategy.

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