JASON RANTZ

Rantz: The insufferable CHOP hypocrisy of Mayor Jenny Durkan

Jun 30, 2020, 7:57 PM | Updated: Jul 1, 2020, 11:16 am
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, chop, protest freeway...
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (AP File Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP File Photo/Ted S. Warren)

When CHOP activists took over six blocks of Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan defended the illegal occupation as a block party. She enabled the activism by delivering portable toilets, park services, and trash pick-up.

When the very same or similar activists marched to her home, pushed by Socialist Councilmember Kshama Sawant, Durkan wasn’t so accommodating of the block party because she felt endangered. She immediately demanded the Seattle City Council investigate Sawant and consider expelling her from the dais.

Durkan’s hypocrisy is insufferable.

Durkan’s CHOP double standard

It took two dead Black teenagers before Durkan moved to finally clean up CHOP. It was always dangerous but Durkan, playing politics, pretended CHOP was a street fair that would turn into a “summer of love.” The residents and businesses in and around CHOP dealt with the dangerous activism for weeks, but Durkan did nothing.

Fearing she’d anger the Progressive and Socialist voting base, pushing them to back a far-left challenger in her re-election campaign (it’ll be Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda), Durkan was fine sitting back and letting residents suffer. They dealt with fights and screaming at all hours of the night. Residents couldn’t drive in or out of their own neighborhood. Many were scared of what was happening outside. And if they needed to call the cops or medics, they knew their pleas would go unfulfilled. And Durkan didn’t care about them.

But when Sawant leads CHOP-style activists on a march to Durkan’s house, the mayor immediately had a fit. Her office drew up a letter demanding an investigation into Sawant’s typical conduct.

Some context

Durkan faced threats when she served as a U.S. Attorney and, consequently, her home address has been scrubbed from the public record.

I understand why Sawant’s stunt angered Durkan. The mayor and her family shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of dangerous, intimidating protest outside her home. No politician should.

Moreover, why should the mayor get a courtesy she refuses to extend to her constituents? Shouldn’t residents in and around CHOP have a basic courtesy of, you know, not living inside a piece of land being held hostage by radical activists? Shouldn’t they have access to police services, or are personal protective services only extended to the rich, wealthy, and powerful? Because if it’s a block party at CHOP, it’s a block party outside of Durkan’s home.

The Durkan complaint

Durkan takes issue with a number of questionable actions by Sawant, beyond the protest outside of her home.

Sawant gives her voting and staffing decisions to a group of Socialist Alternative activists who pay to join their club. She opened up City Hall for a protest in opposition to the city’s coronavirus mandates and the councilmember stands accused of illegally using city resources to promote her “Tax Amazon” campaign. Durkan even hits Sawant for encouraging CHOP, a remarkably ridiculous claim because Durkan did the same.

Sawant, to be clear, is a bad-faith politician who traffics in hate and division. She cons 20-something, privileged, mostly-white activists to do her bidding under the false promise that they won’t ever need a real job to make ends meet because she’ll give them handouts paid for by Jeff Bezos. Her rhetoric is odious, her exploitation of a dead Black teen to push an Amazon tax is ghoulish, and her tactics make her come off as soulless. But none of this is new.

Curious timing

Why would Durkan take this stand against Sawant right now? A 16-year-old boy was killed at CHOP by adults playing a dangerous game of “security force” dress-up. A 14-year-old remains in serious condition in the hospital. Durkan isn’t talking about this. No press release about the murder that happened, again, under watch. Not even a tweet.

But she’ll release a letter about an investigation into a council member that has always acted this irresponsibly? For what? This council won’t expel Sawant. They rely on the same base to help prop up their anti-business, anti-capitalism policies. What was the point, exactly?

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Rantz: The insufferable CHOP hypocrisy of Mayor Jenny Durkan