Reading Seattle’s Tea Leaves

Im not alone. That’s the extent of the good news. 

Tim Burgess, former city council member, Kathleen O’Toole, our police chief during consent decree reforms, The Seattle Times editorial board, and others have gone public with their concerns about the current city council’s determination to rapidly cut the SPD budget. But the council is paying no attention to these voices, just as they paid no attention to retiring SPD Chief Carmen Best’s desire to work with them. 

The council is listening to protesters who support the agenda of Decriminalize Seattle and King County Equity Now. These are the folks who roam the streets whenever and wherever they choose, blocking traffic as they choose, ignoring the process for getting permits for protests. These are the folks who taunt police with insults, protect any in their midst who go beyond taunting and endanger police, protect those who break windows, loot, and set fires. They whine about police brutality when, in fact, police know how to work with truly peaceful protesters quite well. 

I wonder if any of the council members even know what downtown Seattle looks like this summer. A recent letter in The Seattle Times invited council members to walk, alone, along Third Avenue, from City Hall to Westlake Park in the evening. Would any of them feel safe doing so? The truth is that no one is safe doing so. The truth is that the boarded up windows discourage anyone except drug dealers from going downtown at any time of day. 

With thousands of people working from home, with every business boarded up, downtown Seattle is a wasteland. I live on the edge of Freeway Park, our award winning bit of manufactured open space on top of our freeway. Walking from home to the Pike Place Market, walking from home to go shopping, walking from home to view the transformation of our waterfront, walking from home to get a free banana from Amazon, these used to be fun outings. No longer.

Obviously, the council can’t control Covid-19. But can they grasp the idea that public safety is key to setting the stage for Seattle’s recovery? Council members are so anxious to help the homeless that they refuse to acknowledge that police are key to public safety. Protesters like to claim that police don’t stop crime, they only respond to it. But take police off the streets for a time and watch what happens. Oh, wait! We did that. It was called CHAZ, then CHOP, then the site of two murders and others shot either by protesters or as protesters watched and kept police at bay. 

So yeah, we did that experiment, but the council refuses to learn from it. Meanwhile, I’m watching Seattle’s tea leaves settle. The future? Grim. 

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