What's Tony Thinking

Seattle’s Left Marches Off the Map


On Wednesday a Seattle Times editorial called for an end to vile and dangerous threats against Mayor Jenny Durkan. I always used to think that if you got it from both sides, then you were probably doing something right. Durkan certainly has gotten it from both sides. But this is no joke — whatever you think of her performance. Demonstrations targeting her home and death threats against the Mayor and her family are reprehensible.

Here’s an excerpt from the Times piece pointing out that violence and intimidation isn’t something the right-wing has a corner on.

“That is as abhorrent as President Donald Trump’s divisive, incendiary rhetoric. In one sign of escalation, right-wing extremists were arrested this month for allegedly plotting to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic governor, a target of Trump attacks.

“In Seattle, Durkan was targeted at home recently with homophobic and misogynistic messages by left-wing protesters. Individuals at earlier such protests called for her execution, according to the mayor’s office. With so many threats happening, the office created a new system to log and report them to the Seattle Police Department.”

Because Durkan had previously been a federal attorney and her work had drawn death threats, the location of her residence was not available to the public. That is, until last June when City Council member Kshama Sawant took it upon herself to lead protestors to Durkan’s home.

A University of Washington professor, Daniel Chirot, who studies revolutionary movements makes the further point about who benefits from this left-wing extremism. “The problem is that in this country, the stronger this far left is and the more it gets away with in cities like Seattle, what it does nationally is strengthen the far right.” If Trump manages to pull off a win next week, the radical left in Portland and Seattle can take some of the credit/ blame.

Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council continues to inhabit its own electric blue bubble as it moves to further protect those who engage in criminal behavior from any consequences.

Longtime City Council member and Interim Mayor, Tim Burgess (whose home was also the site of protests in August, even though he was out of office) writes in his current newsletter, Seattle Forward, about recent moves by our City Council. Here’s Burgess,

“Just how out of touch some members of our City Council are became painfully clearer this week when prosecution of misdemeanor crimes was discussed. Some Council members want to make it more difficult to successfully prosecute these cases.

“Misdemeanor crimes are those where punishment is capped at 364 days in jail — think simple assault, fighting, retail theft (shoplifting), car prowl, harassment, non-retail theft (stealing your bicycle from your porch or backyard), and many other offenses.

“In December, or perhaps January, the Council will consider a new city ordinance expanding the already existing affirmative defenses available to offenders charged with misdemeanors. These existing defenses include diminished capacity, insanity, necessity, self-defense or defense of others, defense of property, involuntary intoxication, and duress, to name some. This new legislation would create an expanded defense of duress if the offender was acting to meet an “immediate basic need” or was suffering from a “behavioral health disorder,” a broad condition that covers drug or alcohol addiction and mental health. A “basic need” is defined as “a commodity or service without which life cannot be sustained and includes, but is not limited to, adequate food, shelter, medical care, clothing, and access to sanitation.” (The proposed law does not provide these new defenses in cases related to domestic violence or driving under the influence.)

“On the surface, this new law might seem appropriate to some, after all who wants to arrest people suffering addiction or mental health challenges and throw them in jail. But this legislation needs to be carefully examined in the context of what already happens with misdemeanor arrests and prosecutions in Seattle and what it might mean to public health and safety in our neighborhoods.

“In 2019, Seattle police forwarded approximately 12,000 misdemeanor cases to the city prosecutor. After screening, the prosecutor filed criminal charges in 5,421 cases, less than one-half of the referred cases, not counting domestic violence or DUI cases. Talk to business owners in your neighborhood or downtown and you will hear consistent criticism of city government for not adequately enforcing misdemeanor crimes, especially shoplifting. When businesses shut down, the owners often cite rampant shoplifting as one of the reasons.

“Statements from the city’s elected leaders and the passage of laws sends a powerful message to police officers and prosecutors about what the city government expects. Passing this proposed law will strongly signal that the City Council doesn’t believe misdemeanor crimes committed by some are important; it will discourage officers from making arrests and it will discourage prosecutors from filing formal charges in Municipal Court. As one criminal defense attorney said to me, this proposed law ‘is a defense attorney’s dream.’”

For Burgess’s full article click on the link to his newsletter.




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