JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Sawant baselessly claims CHOP murder was a ‘right-wing attack’

Jun 21, 2020, 9:09 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2020, 12:49 pm
Signs at the entrance to the CHOP. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren) 
              A sign on the street reads "Welcome to the CHOP," Saturday, June 20, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. A pre-dawn shooting near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              CHOP is spray painted on a barricade, Saturday, June 20, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. A pre-dawn shooting near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              A person who said he goes by the name James Madison carries a rifle as he walks Saturday, June 20, 2020, near what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Madison is part of the volunteer security team who have been working inside the CHOP zone, and said he and other armed volunteers were patrolling Saturday to keep the area safe. A pre-dawn shooting Saturday near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              A member of the volunteer security team at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest Zone carries a rifle as he walks Saturday, June 20, 2020, inside the CHOP in Seattle. Armed volunteers said they were patrolling Saturday to keep the area safe. A pre-dawn shooting Saturday near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              A person who said he goes by the name James Madison, left, carries a rifle as he walks with Javi Cordero, Saturday, June 20, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Both men are part of the volunteer security team who have been working inside the CHOP zone. A pre-dawn shooting Saturday near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              A sign on a barricade reads "Welcome to CHOP," Saturday, June 20, 2020, at the intersection of 10th Ave. and Pine St. at the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. A pre-dawn shooting near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
            
              Pedestrians walk Sunday, June 21, 2020, in Seattle, where streets are blocked off in what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone. Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building earlier in the month after clashes with people protesting the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
            
              A person who said he goes by the name James Madison, second from right, carries a rifle as he walks Saturday, June 20, 2020, inside what has been named the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone in Seattle. Madison is part of the volunteer security team who have been working inside the CHOP zone, and said he and other armed volunteers were patrolling Saturday to keep the area safe. A pre-dawn shooting Saturday near the area left one person dead and critically injured another person, authorities said Saturday. The area has been occupied by protesters after Seattle Police pulled back from several blocks of the city's Capitol Hill neighborhood near the Police Department's East Precinct building. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Socialist Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant claimed there are “indications” that right wingers shot and killed a man in CHOP over the weekend. No such indications exist.

So why make the claim? It’s part of Sawant’s strategy to exploit a movement she’s only tangentially connected to in order push her Socialist Amazon tax.

Rantz: Alleged Seattle arsonist near CHOP arrested, AK-47 found nearby

UPDATE: What we know about the CHOP shooting

UPDATE (06-22-20 at 11:02am): According to an organizer who told Q13 he was at the scene during the shooting, the fight started over the use of fireworks.

The truth is, since police aren’t able to do a traditional investigation and apparently CHOP protesters aren’t cooperating, we don’t know much for certain. We do know that a 19-year-old man needlessly lost his life early Saturday morning. It should not have happened.

Moments before the gunfire erupted, video purports to show a fight at CHOP that preceded the gun fire.

“It’s getting heated down here,” a witness said on his Facebook Live. “I saw a brother pull out a [censored] 12 inch [censored] blade out of his backpack.”

He blamed alcohol for the fight: “They partied way too hard.”

Then, moments later, people started to run. As he was asking what’s happening, at least six gun shots were fired.

The rumors start

Quickly, some activists online blamed white supremacists.

“Eyewitnesses reported multiple white men with long guns in a pickup truck as doing the shooting,” wrote Geov Parrish of KODX Seattle on Facebook. “White men shooting, and the deceased was an African-American male. Reportedly. There’s a lot we don’t know yet.”

Though he acknowledged they were just early reports, Parrish went on to point fingers.

“This is a direct outcome of the ‘antifa’ and other hysteria across the right wing fever swamp of social media, amplified by Donald Trump, Fox News, and other neo-fascist media platforms,” Parrish wrote. “They are part of this problem, and local media outlets like KIRO Radio and KOMO News are part of the problem, too.”

It’s unclear where those reports came from exactly. But Sawant was quick to forward that narrative.

“Though we await confirmation of the details of the killing, there are indications that this may have been a right-wing attack,” Sawant said.

She went on to blame President Donald Trump, Mayor Jenny Durkan and “conservative and corporate media outlets, both locally and nationally, which have themselves whipped up right-wing hate by completely misrepresenting the nature of the peaceful protest occupation…”

It’s unclear how much knowledge Sawant has about CHOP. She spends as little time in the area as possible, but is quick to step up to try to own and guide the movement.

The walk-back

As more details emerged, it appeared less likely the shooting was the result of the “right-wing attack” Sawant baselessly speculated. Some activists came forward to correct the record.

One of the many groups from CHOP released a statement to KOMO News saying “it seems the situation escalated because of gang affiliations.” It appears to reference the fight that broke out moments before the gunshots.

Parrish updated his “reporting” with a Facebook update citing video that “appears to show the confrontation, between two young African-American men, that appeared to escalate into last night’s fatal gunshots.”

The Seattle Times asked Sawant about her statement blaming the right. Her office walked back her claims. The Times reports:

On Sunday, her office said in a separate statement her earlier comments had been based on ‘reports on social media,’ saying the statement had been ‘conditional’ while awaiting further confirmation of details.

The new statement said regardless of the shooting details, ‘it is extremely important our movement fight against the dangerous misinformation from corporate and conservative media and from the Trump administration.’

So far, much of this weekend’s misinformation came from her office.

Ultimately, police will find out what happened. It could be that the information pointing to a brawl that ended in gun fight is what happened. Maybe it was a coincidence and “right wingers” were responsible. I have no clue. But neither does Sawant.

Whether it was gang related, a nasty fight that ended with gun fire, or white supremacists, the result is still the same. A gunman or two got away because cops couldn’t respond to the crime as they normally would. At best, a fully functioning East Precinct could have been a deterrent for someone to use a gun in the area. At worst, cops could have responded so much quicker and maybe make an arrest.

So what was the point of Sawant’s speculation, exactly? It’s part of her long game to expand her base to help her enact her Socialist policies.

The Sawant CHOP strategy

CHOP doesn’t likely interest Sawant as much as the underlying activism motivating people to show up.

Using Socialist Alternative, Sawant hopes to recruit these passionate activists towards her cause. It’s why Socialist Alternative is at CHOP manning a table to sign people up. I imagine there’s crossover interest in CHOP activities and going after Amazon or pursuing socialist policies. But I also imagine people can see through Sawant’s armchair activism.

Sawant doesn’t spend much time at the CHOP. She’ll come in for a quick speech then she retreats. The people who are on the ground day and night are the true believers. I may disagree with some of their policy prescriptions, but at least they’re believers. Sawant only shows up when it’s convenient to her cause.

Sawant’s ultimate goal is to tax Amazon, which she’s pushed a couple times at CHOP events, though she’s faced pushback from leaders smart enough to realize she’s using them for her own political agenda. That’s all her involvement is about. And blaming “right-wing attacks” was purposeful.

Sawant knows the CHOP crowd loathes Trump and Republicans. She decided to put out the speculation as a worthwhile risk. If she’s right, she’ll use it to show solidarity with CHOP and use it to continue to push against Amazon. If she’s wrong, what does she care? She frequently makes outlandish and factually inaccurate claims in the name of her cause. She just walks them back by claiming the statements were “conditional.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Sawant baselessly claims CHOP murder was a ‘right-wing attack’