Seattle’s far-left mayor finally vowed to bring about an end to an ongoing occupation of a six-block area in the city’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. This comes after two shootings took the life of at least one person last weekend.
Mayor Jenny Durkan took a decidedly soft stance on the protestors when the group seized the neighborhood. The protests started shortly after the death of George Floyd sparked protests in the city. Ms. Durkan is changing her tune now, but it took a murder for the city to act.
The shootings occurred over the weekend, and the perpetrators remain at-large in both instances. On Saturday, an unidentified 19-year-old male was shot and killed in the autonomous zone. A 33-year-old male also suffered wounds in the altercation. The fire department responded to the reported shooting. However, the group holding the area refused to allow emergency services personnel into the exclusion zone.
Fire department personnel set up a perimeter around the six-block exclusion zone, but police couldn’t conduct any kind of substantive forensic investigation. By the time they arrived, locals told first responders the victim had already been taken to hospital. Seattle detectives say the suspect or suspects quickly fled the scene and that they made no arrests.
On Sunday, another shooting broke out in the area that wounded a 17-year-old male. Officers responding to the shooting said, “[they] were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers’ safe access to the victims.” The teenage victim was also transported to the hospital via a private vehicle, where he was treated and released. However, he refused to speak with police investigators regarding the incident.
Lack of Government Action?
Mayor Durkan and Washington Governor Jay Inslee – both Democrats – have allowed the occupation to continue for weeks with little effort to quell the unrest. In fact, critics argue that they’ve done more harm than good. The occupation began after Seattle Police received the order to evacuate a police department in the area.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best had previously said she was against the order to abandon the precinct. The city’s liberal government, however, was more interested in appeasing violent protestors than restoring law and order. “Ultimately, the city had other plans for the building and relented to severe public pressure. I’m angry about how this all came about,” Best said shortly after her officers needed to abandon the facility.
Meanwhile, residents of the six-block exclusion zone have been forced to stand by while armed interlopers took control of their neighborhoods. Locals inhabitants of the exclusion zone have been subjected to armed checkpoints, spot ID checks, and general chaos. Local businesses have reported instances of extortion. Additionally, the area has drawn at least one comparison to the post-apocalyptic dystopia portrayed in 70’s cult classic ‘Mad Max’.
One resident told local news that Mayor Durkan should come to spend some time in the s zone so that she can see the carnage first-hand. “I would invite Mayor Durkan to spend one night in the CHOP area, and she can feel for herself what it’s like,” they said. Another resident, Matthew Ploszaj, told local KOMO news, “It was doomed to happen from Day One,” said Ploszaj. “No one wanted to say it, but I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.
It took a murder, but Mayor Durkan says her office is working to end the occupation. However, she provided no timeline or concrete course of action for achieving that loosely-defined objective. Instead, she provided a typically political summary of the violence, “The cumulative impacts of the gatherings and protests and the nighttime atmosphere and violence has led to increasingly difficult circumstances for our businesses and residents,” Durkan said. “The impacts have increased and the safety has decreased.”
It took a few weeks, but Durkan finally admitted that restricting emergency services personnel from responding to crimes will not do anything good. “There should be no place in Seattle that the Seattle Fire Department and the Seattle Police Department can’t go,” Durkan said. She told reporters at a recent press conference that her office will continue working with the community to end the occupation and promised the police would move back into their precinct soon. However, it’s unclear whether Durkan’s promises are anything more than a token effort to appease her critics.
Chief Best took a more pragmatic stance on the issue. “This is not about politics, and I’m not a politician. This is a debate about life or death. So we need a plan, said Best. “ cannot stand by, not another second and watch another black man, or anyone really, die in our streets while people aggressively thwart the efforts of police and other first responders from rescuing them.”