KTTH OPINION

Rantz: WA State Patrol gave I-5 Seattle to activists for protest

Jan 7, 2024, 6:30 PM | Updated: Jan 8, 2024, 8:48 am

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) allowed Seattle’s pro-Hamas activists to occupy northbound I-5  on Saturday for hours. It caused unbearable traffic delays and sent a clear message: the state still belongs to dangerous extremists.

The pro-Hamas activists, some of which included Antifa, started the rally and march at the Starbucks Roastery on Capitol Hill. The cafe was shuttered, with boards posted over windows because the coffee giant knew there would be vandalism. That’s precisely what occurred because activists are allowed to vandalize with impunity. It’s why many don’t even bother to hide their faces anymore.

Law enforcement had intel suggesting the antisemite marchers would take I-5, though it wasn’t confirmed. But after they began their march, they were clearly headed straight for the freeway on-ramp. With the protection of activists driving slowly in cars, law enforcement allowed the group to commander the northbound lanes, snarling traffic for miles. The group chanted, sang, danced, and gave more speeches demonizing and insulting Israel, Jews, and police.

A small group of law enforcement, led by the WSP, appeared to negotiate with two of the antisemitic group’s leaders. They powwowed in the middle of the freeway multiple times over the roughly three hours that the activists illegally occupied the freeway, but nothing came of it. They met, they talked briefly, they disbanded, and nothing happened. Despite being given multiple dispersal orders, activists have learned they’re mere suggestions, not truly “orders.”

The activists were allowed to illegally occupy the freeway under the leadership of WSP Chief John Batiste and Governor Jay Inslee. If activists represent far-left views, they can do whatever they want without fear of meaningful consequences. It was yet another pathetic display of political cowardice.

WSP was unprepared

It was clear that, despite the intel, WSP was unprepared.

This isn’t a reflection of the troopers. For starters, they are woefully understaffed with 154 trooper vacancies. They relied on other agencies for assistance, including the Seattle Police Department and the King County Sheriff’s Office. The staffing crisis was made worse by COVID vaccine mandates that both terminated staff and repulsed would-be applicants.

WSP command staff and state leadership are to blame.

They are incapable and/or unwilling to deal with left-wing agitators. It’s not like this is the first time these extremists took control of I-5. Even after it led to the death of a protester, Democrat leaders expect a hands-off approach to left-wing protests. Exchange the keffiyehs with MAGA hats, and you’d get a different response because Democrat lawmakers would demand it.

Plan? What plan?

There didn’t appear to be a coherent plan to handle traffic when the march began.

WSP (or Seattle Police) could have blocked off the on-ramp to stop the antisemites from occupying the freeway. They inexplicably chose not to, even though the agency had a ramp response and freeway closure plan. They could have briefly closed southbound traffic and then used crowd-clearing weapons like tear gas to disperse the crowd, but Democrats pretend it’s a weapon of war. They could have made mass arrests, but we live in a state where Democrats aim to keep dangerous criminals out of jail. The prospect of a criminal protester being arrested is pretty unimaginable.

Chris Loftis, a spokesperson for the WSP, told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the agency’s first priority is the safety of the traveling public, law enforcement, and protesters themselves. But, he says, “we always want to clear any disruption, distraction, or collision as quickly as we safely can and re-open the highways.”

“Suffice to say this was a large and complicated scene of intentional and coordinated disruption that was handled as expeditiously as safety would allow,” Loftis said in a statement.

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Accountability? What accountability?

Ultimately, we’re to believe they could not safely clear the protest. After rain started to come down hard, the activists marched off the freeway. They abandoned 12 cars on the freeway, too lazy to move them.

WSP spent about an hour towing the cars away before the freeway could be opened. Surely, activists know their cars have registrations tying them to the illegal protest. But they’re so confident they won’t be charged that they just left them to be towed. Their parents will worry about the bill to pick up the car in the coming days.

Loftis says that while there were no arrests, the “investigation continues and those found to have behaved criminally will be held accountable.”

This is almost certainly an empty promise. The activists on the freeway were all behaving criminally. Most of them, if not all of them, will escape accountability. And they know it.

Flagrant violations of the law

Some activists still cover their faces, scared they might upset their employers (like Seattle Public Schools, Starbucks, etc.) or their parents/landlords in Kirkland or Sammamish. Many are just white people wearing keffiyehs as a means to make their first Palestinian friend, which their main objective. Others commit criminal acts without hiding their identities because they’ve learned not to fear legal repercussions. They even brag about it.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, radical activist Rizwan Samad posted videos of the protest from the freeway. He admitted to illegally blocking traffic. After an hour of “resistance” (which they justify as much as they do the rape, kidnapping, and murder of innocent Jews by Hamas), he posted a second video.

“We blocked the I-5 North Seattle for the last 3 hours. Seattle and State police have several warnings. At any moment, they are going to arrest us,” he posted.

Samad, who owns New Wave Travel in Seattle’s University District, isn’t even likely worried about a boycott for rallying to support Hamas and end Israel as we know it. In Seattle, this behavior is more likely to earn you customers. Will WSP arrest Samad and push for charges?

This will keep happening

The activism keeps escalating because the city and state have told the antisemites that they can, in fact, continue to escalate.

Want to take over city streets? Have at it. The city acts like it’s a constitutionally protected right to take over city streets to chant for genocide against Jews. Want to disrupt a Christmas tree lighting ceremony or disrupt commerce in downtown Seattle? Go for it. Not only will activists be allowed to do it, but the city and state’s Democrat leadership won’t even offer a tweet to criticize the move.

And despite knowing activists would take the freeway, city leadership turned a blind eye and had law enforcement offer a few feckless dispersal suggestions before calling it a night.

Protesters know they have control of the city. The WSP can put out statements insisting this kind of protest is illegal, but without any meaningful consequences, you can guarantee we’ll see this happen again.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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