Following a week of protests and riots in Seattle, government authorities abandoned the police’s East Precinct headquarters and left protestors to establish the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.”
What the police left behind of their barricades were quickly repurposed to mark out the protestors new territory, complete with a sign welcoming visitors to “Free Capitol Hill.”
The protestors have established a territory, and are now issuing demands. The list posted on Medium is lengthy, with many demands which most people in their right minds would find unpalatable. Here are a few of the most egregious.
“The Seattle Police Department and attached court system are beyond reform. We do not request reform, we demand abolition. We demand that the Seattle Council and the Mayor defund and abolish the Seattle Police Department and the attached Criminal Justice Apparatus. This means 100% of funding, including existing pensions for Seattle Police.”
This statement on its own demonstrates just how out of touch these protestors are from the American public. Only 16 percent of Americans support cutting funding for police departments, never mind actually abolishing the police and criminal justice systems entirely. Coupling this demand with one further down the list “demand[ing] the abolition of imprisonment,” makes one wonder if these Seattle protestors can be anything other than radical anarchists.
Reparations for Victims
“We demand reparations for victims of police brutality, in a form to be determined.”
This demand seems unnecessary because it is already in effect. Following Tony Robinson’s death at the hands of a Madison, WI police officer, his family received $3.35 million as a settlement to a federal civil rights lawsuit. This despite the fact that the officer was never even charged. Philando Castile’s family also received nearly $3 million in one suit, while Castile’s girlfriend received $800,000 in a separate settlement for emotional distress and false arrest.
Investigations of Police Brutality
“We demand that not the City government, nor the State government, but that the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability.”
I know the protesters aren’t very high on Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. Some can’t even stand Socialist Alternative City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who proposed a 50 percent reduction in the Seattle police department’s budget. But doesn’t it seem incongruous of the protestors to demand police brutality investigations be handed over to President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr? I thought it was Trump who was enabling white supremacists?
Retrials for Minority Prisoners
“We demand a retrial of all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime, by a jury of their peers in their community.”
All Americans are already guaranteed a right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,” as the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states. That’s relatively local to begin with, and the founders likely stopped it from going more local than that as a way to protect the “impartial” aspect of this right. Besides, selecting a jury from the local community doesn’t always work out in the defendant’s favor, that’s part of the reason why we have change of venue procedures.
If protestors believe the Sixth Amendment is not sufficient protection for people of color convicted of violent crimes, why is it sufficient protection for white people convicted of violent crimes? What about people of color convicted of non-violent crimes? If we’re going to start amending the constitution, surely more thought should be put into this before we begin? Besides, how can we retry the defendents if the criminal justice system has been abolished?
Support Black-Owned Businesses
“We demand the people of Seattle seek out and proudly support Black-owned businesses. Your money is our power and sustainability.”
This gets creepy because it’s not just a demand about how the government ought to conduct itself. Instead, it’s an imposition into the lives of private citizens, dictating the economic decisions of three-quarters of a million people. It’s also unlikely that such a demand truly ends at the city limits, or that it would not be imposed upon anyone visiting Seattle.
The last sentence is additionally revealing. The money of those driven by guilt and fear has sustained race mongers and diversity instructors for decades. Where is the line drawn on which groups have a claim to the money of other groups? Furthermore, will the protestors force poor people of color to shop at black-owned stores even if they can get the same goods for less money at their local Target or Walmart?
Besides, if the entirety of the law enforcement and criminal justice systems are to be abolished, who will be left to compel Seattle residents to support black-owned businesses as the protestors demand? For that matter, if the protestors’ demands are met, will anyone be left that wants to live in, or even visit, Seattle in the first place?
[Image Credit: Flickr-Kelly Kline, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]