JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Mayor Durkan backs a protest on freeway, but not near her home

Jul 4, 2020, 1:47 PM | Updated: Jul 5, 2020, 2:44 pm
Trooper Rick Johnson tweeted up a photo of the suspect's car early Saturday. (@wspd2pio) 
              Emergency workers bring an injured person to an ambulance after a driver sped through a protest-related closure on the Interstate 5 freeway in Seattle, authorities said early Saturday, July 4, 2020. Dawit Kelete, 27, has been arrested and booked on two counts of vehicular assault. (James Anderson via AP)

Mayor Jenny Durkan defends the foolish and dangerous decision to protest on a freeway in the middle of the night. But when you protest in front of her house, she throws a fit.

Early Saturday morning, two women were struck by a car by a driver speeding through a protest on I-5 in Seattle. The freeway was closed by law enforcement at the time because protesters continue to illegally occupy the space. The suspect has been identified as 27-year-old Dawit Kelete and police haven’t yet released a motive.

Though no reasonable person was surprised that a driver, intentionally or not, struck protesters illegally occupying a freeway, it’s a tragedy nonetheless. However stupid and illegal the decision to march on a freeway, the behavior is enabled by government agencies and politicians too scared to say no to protesters. They do it because they’re allowed to.

Freeway protest gets support from Durkan

Unlike after the homicide of a 16-year-old Black teen at CHOP, where the mayor was silent because she was partly responsible for the environment where he was killed, this time Durkan tweeted almost immediately. It was painfully transparent pandering.

I certainly agree that “no one should risk their life” during a protest. That is why it’s troubling that the Washington State Patrol chief allows protests on the freeway without legal consequence. They could do the smart and safe thing, which is arrest people who walk on the freeway. But that would be too hard. They might earn the Twitter ire of keyboard warriors.

What’s remarkable here, however, is the about-face from Durkan.

Rantz: The insufferable CHOP hypocrisy of Mayor Jenny Durkan

Durkan’s transparent politicking

When protesters marched to Durkan’s expensive home, there was no tweet from the mayor about the right to protest. In fact, Durkan wrote an angry letter demanding the Council investigate the councilmember, Kshama Sawant, for leading it.

Protest in front of her house and Durkan gets mad. But when it comes to protesting on a freeway in the middle of the night? Well, Durkan will defend you, pretending the act isn’t inherently dangerous or illegal.

Durkan’s response is driven purely by politics. She’s scared of a far-Left challenger as she runs for re-election. It’s why she’s pandering to the protester base, hoping they don’t back an opponent (likely Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda).

She’s signaling to them that she’s got their backs. Except she doesn’t, they know that, and they will never vote for her. So all Durkan is doing here is humiliating herself, alienating Seattle voters who see CHOP-style activism as dangerous and counter-productive, and making it more likely that she’ll be defeated next year. And in the meantime, she’s implictly backing activists to continue to occupy freeways, making another accident or targeted attack seem inevitable.

Rantz: WA Democrat chair viciously says GOP is trying to ‘kill’ voters

Update at 2:44pm on 07-05-20 to reflect more clearly that the only reason the freeway was closed was due to protesters illegally marching on it.

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Rantz: Mayor Durkan backs a protest on freeway, but not near her home