Our current Attorney General has been silent about how unsafe our streets have become and now on whether he supports defunding our police departments. As your next Attorney General, I will not be silent.
George Floyd’s death should inspire us to reform and improve our police departments, but defunding and dismantling them will make our streets less safe for all of us. We are asking our police to do too much. We need to address the underlying causes that affect public safety, like mental illness and drug addiction, and the consequences that each have on homelessness. As your next Attorney General, I will create a homelessness task force to find solutions to these challenges.
The Revolution is not coming
The recent end of Bernie Sanders’ campaign shows that there is no real threat that the socialist revolution, which Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant calls for, is around the corner. But the continuing attempt by many—not just her—to push Seattle farther and farther into the political fringes has resulted in an increase in assaults and property crime, and a general sense by those who live and work in the City that it is no longer safe in many neighborhoods.
Last year, a lawyer was nearly killed as he entered the King County Courthouse. A judge took the unprecedented step of closing the main entrance because of that assault and the 160 others which had occurred in prior months. If you are not safe seeking justice at the courthouse, are you safe anywhere?
As has been meticulously documented by the Downtown Seattle Association, criminals roam Seattle’s streets, robbing local merchants like they are ATMs. The police are told not to intervene, and some retailers like Bartells respond by closing stores.
Almost everyone who lives or works in the City has heard the stories of a neighbor or friend who was robbed, and are told when the police arrive that it’s not worth filling out a criminal report because the City doesn’t prosecute property crimes. Seattle has among the highest rate of property crime in the country, twice that of Los Angeles or Chicago.
Distractions to reform are not helpful
The riots and vandalism following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer distracted from an important conversation and brought lawlessness to a new level. The Seattle Mayor’s lack of backbone forced the retreat of the Seattle Police Department from its East Precinct Headquarters. Then, after being led by the Marxist City Councilmember Kshama Sawant to briefly seize control of City Hall, protestors have now barricaded and proclaimed control over several blocks which they are calling the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
A look inside the “CHAZ”
On a recent morning I visited the Zone, or CHAZ as they are calling it. It is about 10 blocks from my office. I did not encounter anyone asking for identification to enter, as some local media have reported. But many blocks are barricaded and there are signs and graffiti on most of the buildings.
Much like we’ve seen before in Seattle neighborhoods, tents are everywhere on the sidewalks and parks. A soccer field where I used to play in an adult league has tents in the mouth of the goals.
Maybe because it was early in the morning and many of the campers were asleep, it was peaceful. A man with a distinguished grey beard greeted me by saying he was 70 years old and doing well. He asked me how I was doing. I overheard an argument about the importance of removing trash. Signs were posted prohibiting taking photos, but many like me were doing so anyway. Commuters on bikes rode through the many barricades undeterred.
A small picture of George Floyd overlooked the street on which “Black Lives Matter” had been painted in giant block letters. Graffiti proclaimed, “revolution or bust” and elsewhere “People’s Republic of Capitol Hill.”
But the East Precinct Building was boarded up and fenced in. A sign at the entrance says, “Defunding SPD: This is Now a Community Center.”
Seattle is a compassionate city like the rest of our state. It is filled with people who truly care about addressing racial injustice and prejudice. But those who are pushing Seattle father to the political fringes seek to take advantage of this compassion by refusing to enforce the law against those who commit property and other crimes. Seeking to defund the police is just the next step in their plan to abandon the rule of law.
Learning from history
My father was a homeless refugee at the end of World War II. He was born on a collective farm in the Soviet Union because his family’s farm had been seized in the Marxist revolution that Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant seeks to recreate. (Really, read her party’s website!)
My dad taught me that it took both compassion and respect for the rule of law to lift up the huddled masses to a better life.
It simply is not compassionate to allow criminals to prey on others without consequences. We should not criminalize mental health or even addiction. We should offer a hand up and treatment. But when people rob, steal, or commit assaults we must hold them accountable and protect the safety of our communities.
The hoped-for revolution led by the political fringes in Seattle will not happen. But their efforts to bring it about it is harming the City today. The forced closure of a police precinct headquarters and physical seizure of several city blocks is merely a continuation of an effort—so far successful—by the political fringe to call the shots in Seattle. The policies that have already been adopted under the influence of those seeking to create that revolution are making our communities unsafe right now.
As your next Attorney General, I will work to protect you and our communities, and to protect the Evergreen State.