Dori: King County uses ‘Antifa tactics’ against reporter covering homeless shelter expansion

Oct 4, 2022, 6:34 PM

Jonathan Choe (Photo courtesy of Discovery Institute)...

Jonathan Choe (Photo courtesy of Discovery Institute)

(Photo courtesy of Discovery Institute)

With emotions already running high in Seattle’s Chinatown-International District over King County’s plans to expand an existing shelter into a “megaplex” of homeless, mental health, and addiction services, one of the region’s most recognized reporters on these issues was banned from Tuesday morning’s media tour of the site.

“I’ve been iced out,” former KOMO-TV investigative reporter and now Discovery Institute senior fellow Jonathan Choe told Dori Monson Show listeners just hours after a team from King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office blocked his entry to the tour.

In audio recorded by Choe at the scene, a male voice that Choe later identified as one of Constantine’s top media relations aides can be heard telling the Fix Homelessness initiative reporter, “you’re not a member of the media.”

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Instead of allowing Choe to view the site, King County staff members opened umbrellas to block “holes in the fence” so he could neither videotape the site nor record details of the tour.

“These are Antifa tactics,” Choe said. “This is what we saw in CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest in 2020) and the heights of the BLM social justice” when protestors objected to coverage they didn’t see as favorable.

Despite Choe’s attempts to secure a press pass for the tour, Dori told listeners he believes Choe was “ghosted” by Constantine and his staff because he’s a “dogged reporter who asks tough questions.”

It comes at a time when growing numbers of CID neighbors and business owners are pushing back against King County expansion plans for a north SODO site that already offers 270 shelter beds. The county’s goal is to add 150 more beds, make room for recreational vehicles, and create tiny homes and treatment spaces for those with mental health and addiction problems. The expansion is proposed for east of Lumen Field between Fourth and Sixth Avenues South.

During a Sept. 8 rally at CID’s Hing Hay Park and a Sept. 20 march to Seattle City Hall, homeless megaplex opponents waved signs asking, “Why us again?”

Some blame an increase in CID crime dating back to the 1987 opening of the 152-bed William Booth Center, “The Jungle” – a cluster of illegal encampments under Interstate 5, and the 75-bed Navigation Center homeless shelter that opened its doors in 2017.

Crime, Dori pointed out, tends to increase around areas hosting homeless shelters and service locations like this one. Restaurants and other businesses in the neighborhood have struggled with increases in property crimes locals blame on drug use in the area.

“The CID is already riddled with crime and they don’t want even more,” Dori said. “Many (CID neighbors) do not speak English and they feel like they have no voice.”

Before his departure from KOMO-TV, Dori said, Choe was the CID’s leading local mainstream media contact – a “dogged” go-to reporter for CID neighbors and business leaders. Now that Choe is covering these issues for the media arm of the Discovery Institute, locals still believe he is a reporter they can “trust the most in getting their story out there. Jonathan is marching in the streets with them, at their rallies when nobody else in the media would attend them.”

Beyond the CID and topics surrounding crime and homelessness, Dori said, the issue of blocking a reporter from covering a news story should be a concern to everyone.

“We need more coverage of ferocious reporting to hold these public officials accountable,” Dori said. “They will do everything they can to freeze us out. They want media they can control.”

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Dori: King County uses ‘Antifa tactics’ against reporter covering homeless shelter expansion