By Steve Pomper
This article is painful to write because, as I affix words to a page, I do it with a broken heart. Seattle’s city leaders have abandoned the rule of law and surrendered the Seattle Police Department (SPD) East Precinct, my precinct (and several blocks surrounding it), to the radicals. I have to confess I feel a lump forming in my throat and a queasiness churning in my belly. The East Precinct is not just a building; it was our station house—it was our home.
It was the precinct where I served and protected my community for over two decades. The precinct where I have far too many memories to convey here. Mostly good, some profound, some sad, and a few bad, but that’s life as a cop. It was the precinct where I made enduring friendships and where I mourned fallen officers.
While Minneapolis’ barely-there Mayor Jacob Frey set the table for Seattle’s action by surrendering a police precinct to rioting thugs, at least he made that ludicrous decision in the heat of battle. In Seattle they gave up one of their police precincts after careful thought and deliberation.
You know, after the “mostly peaceful protests” (requisite phrase), during which the mostly peaceful protesters attacked a man in his car, and the man shot one of them in the arm. Then, Mayor Jenny Durkan and Police Chief Carmen Best resolved to “meet peace with peace.”
And what did meet peace with peace entail? In a misguided effort to elicit “peace” from the mostly peaceful—but occasionally violent—protesters, Mayor Durkan and Chief Best decided it would be a splendid idea to surrender one of the city’s police stations to the insurrection. My police station.
This is the Seattle Police Department (SPD) precinct where SPD’s Wall of Honor resides (or used to). The framed images of each of the 59 Seattle police officers killed in the line of duty since 1881 were displayed on a large wall in the break area, reminding officers of the sacrifice any of them might be asked to make on any day at any moment—for the people of Seattle.
When people don’t learn from history… well, you know the rest. History has shown us that appeasing tyrants, and that’s what a mob is, never works. We protected that precinct from many selfish thugs over the years, who felt only their message mattered. The East Precinct was a magnet for any loon with a gripe. On one occasion, demonstrators showed up to protest the U.S. Navy conducting bombing training on an island in Puerto Rico.
Although those riots may seem to have been not as serious, I recall one group of violent protesters lighting a dumpster on fire and attempting to ram it through the East Precinct’s front doors. On another occasion, we had to take action to protect the roof of the building because of credible reports that members of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade were planning to breach the precinct through the roof. The thought of surrendering the precinct was inconceivable.
So, Mayor Durkan and Chief Best want us to believe they are meeting peace with peace. Since when is surrendering a police precinct to a mob so they don’t take it by force, peaceful? If your motivation for an action is to appease an adversary, so they won’t get violent, where is the “peace” in that? Regardless of any sincere desire for peace, there is only submission and humiliation, and soon, very likely, regret.
Because even if the city reclaims the precinct and the surrounding streets through “peaceful” means (which for them simply means the absence of violence) they’ve already made one of the most significant concessions any local government can make. Capitulating to a violent mob by relinquishing a police precinct.
What will happen the next time (and with riots in Seattle, there is always a next time) violent malcontents, motivated by an anti-cop myth, decide they want to take over another police precinct—maybe all of them? Why not SPD HQ? Why not City Hall? It worked this time.
Will this be Seattle’s new SOP in perpetuity? Should the precincts get rid of lockers and have cops work out of duffle bags, make sure nothing is nailed down or screwed in, and put wheels on every large item in the precinct in case city leaders order officers to bug out—again? Seattle’s leaders may get some temporary secession of hostilities, but as long as the occupation continues, nothing good can come of this poor judgment, especially in the long term.
Now an armed insurrection has created an “autonomous zone” around the East Precinct. The rule of law has collapsed, and the city leadership has surrendered to the chaos. Now these radicals have created their own little People’s Republic of Capitol Hill. Reportedly, complete with armed sentries wearing ballistic body armor at their barricades (what, wait… leftists created borders and built a wall?).
And what happens when the city finally decides the occupiers must surrender back the precinct and streets? Pine Street is a major arterial lined with taxpaying businesses and residents. Two choices: make concessions to an illegal occupation (of mostly peaceful protesters) or forced removal. The latter would put the city back in the position they started in. And what if the mob feels the city has reneged on its concessions, or they come up with new demands?
They’ll be back.