Mayor Jenny Durkan: Trump Administration’s ‘Obsession’ with Seattle Is ‘Irrational’

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 16: Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan talks at a press conference about the coronavirus outbreak March 16, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Gov. Jay Inslee ordered all bars, restaurants, entertainment and recreation facilities to temporarily close to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the state with by far …
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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D) soured after the Department of Justice (DOJ) included the Emerald City on a list of jurisdictions known for allowing anarchy, unrest, and violence to fester, stating that the Trump administration’s “obsession” with her city is “irrational.”

“The Trump administration’s threats to defund Seattle, Portland, and New York are a gross misuse of federal power and blatantly unlawful,” Durkan said on Monday, adding, “(President Donald) Trump, the Department of Justice, and (Attorney General William) Barr’s obsession with Seattle and me is irrational and, most importantly, a huge distraction.”

Despite the Trump administration’s actions, Durkan said she remains committed to focusing on four crises, which she identified as the Chinese coronavirus, “an unprecedented economic downturn, the greatest civil rights reckoning in decades, and the continued threat of climate change”:

On Monday, the DOJ announced the inclusion of Seattle, Portland, and New York City on a list of jurisdictions “permitting violence and destruction of property.” The list came in response to a presidential memorandum “reviewing federal funding to state and local governments that are permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction in American cities,” according to the release.

The DOJ provided a handful of examples to support the decision to include the cities on the list. For Seattle, the DOJ pointed to the existence of the area formerly known as the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP)” and the rise in crime that coincided with the so-called “autonomous” zone.

Per the DOJ:

  • For nearly a month, starting in June, the City of Seattle permitted anarchists and activists to seize six square blocks of the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, naming their new enclave the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ) and then the “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” (CHOP).
  • Law enforcement and fire fighters were precluded from entering the territory.  The Seattle Police Department was ordered to abandon their precinct within the CHOP.
  • Person-related crime in the CHOP increased 525% from the same period of time in the same area the year before, including by Mayor Durkan’s own count “two additional homicides, 6 additional robberies, and 16 additional aggravated assaults (to include 2 additional non-fatal shootings).”
  • The CHOP was allowed to stand for nearly a month, during which time two teenagers were shot and killed in the zone.
  • The Seattle City Council, Mayor Durkan, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee publicly rejected federal involvement in law enforcement activities within the city of Seattle.

“When state and local leaders impede their own law enforcement officers and agencies from doing their jobs, it endangers innocent citizens who deserve to be protected, including those who are trying to peacefully assemble and protest,” Barr said in a statement.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens,” he added.

Last week, the New York Times reported that Barr reportedly asked federal prosecutors to see whether they could bring criminal charges against Durkan for allowing the “autonomous” zone in her city. However, a department spokesperson denied that the attorney general issued the directive.

Still, Durkan responded to the report, referring to Barr’s alleged inquiry as “chilling and the latest abuse of power from the Trump administration”:

As Durkan’s city continues to grapple with the issues, it has now hired a convicted pimp to act as a “street czar,” tasked with offering “alternatives to policing.”

“Andre Taylor — who appeared in the documentary ‘American Pimp’ about his life as ‘Gorgeous Dre’ — is getting $12,500 per month for a year, along with an office in Seattle’s Municipal Tower, according to the contract published by PubliCola,” the New York Post reported on Tuesday.

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