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Newell: Seattle occupiers' demands are unconstitutional - and dangerous

Newell Normand
June 16, 2020 - 2:48 pm


The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle came to be when protesters commandeered a six-square block area after the Seattle Police Department abandoned the East Precinct Building there. CHAZ has now been rebranded to the Capitol Hill Organized Protest or CHOP. They've got new demands, with one organizer saying that this is not a party, they are serious about their demands. Unfortunately, it seems like some of those demands may run afoul of the United States Constitution. To help understand what the occupiers want, Newell invited GianCarlo Canaparo from the Heritage Foundation onto the show Tuesday afternoon.

“GianCarlo, they’ve issued this list of demands and are waiting for the government of Seattle and the government of Washington state to respond,” Newell began. “But how do you do so when these demands are in violation of the Constitution of the United States?”

“The problem is, there’s a lot of political will in Seattle in support of these people,” Canaparo said. “We’ve seen every member of the city council either supporting them outright or at best trying to pretend it's not happening. The Mayor is largely in support, saying it's a block party. The Police Chief has said no, our police calls are tripled and we can't respond to calls for rapes or burglaries. You now have the government of Seattle reputed to be in negotiations with the protesters to get them to leave, but some of these demands just can't be granted legally. For instance, they want every person of color in prison for a violent crime to be re-sentenced in front of a jury that is 100% the same color as the defendant. The Constitution forbids jury selection on the basis of race. They want to abolish the police entirely. But what about your right to due process? Those rights exist because there is a law enforcement agency to enforce them.

“So how does this end? What is the end game?” Newell asked. “Obviously, they want a dismantling of the entire governing infrastructure… if nothing else, they are consistent. They believe there is systemic racism everywhere, not just in the criminal justice system. Forget about the fact that they live in a Democratic-controlled city. They can’t meet the demands, we keep hearing about negotiations, but I don’t know what they’re negotiating!”

“Right, and I don’t either,” Canaparo said. “And unfortunately, the way this ends is that unless politicians in Seattle are willing to take up the courage of their convictions and say look, we’re sympathetic with your grievances, but we will not let you use violence and lawlessness and take over a city block to get your demands met. Until someone is willing to stand up, put this behavior down and disperse them, you’re going to see people in the crossfire exposed to violence and unable to call the police.”

“This seems to me to be ripe for a writ to compel government actors to protect the rights of property owners,” Newell said. “For those who cant freely go about their day without going through a citizen checkpoint with armed guards, demanding they produce ID. They’re opposed to oppressions by government, but they’re engaged in the same conduct!”

Hear the entire conversation in the audio player below.


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