Protest Politics: Mayors Acting Unseriously in Face of Looming Budget Shortfalls


Even though there was already evidence of violence and extortion there, earlier this month, Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle defended the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone as a kind of “block party” run by idealists. On June 11th she tweeted that “#CHAZ is not a lawless wasteland of anarchist insurrection – it is a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world.” The genesis of CHAZ, since renamed CHOP, was in the mayoral decision to cede a police precinct to protestors and rioters. CHOP has made news for violently policing its borders with the rest of Seattle. In the past week, two teenagers have been shot to death, and a 14-year-old critically wounded.

But she is not the only mayor who is being unserious. Muriel Bowser of D.C. has wasted time painting Black Lives Matter in front of the White House. Mayor de Blasio, whose city has seen an extremely alarming increase in violent crime, wants to paint the same message in front of Trump Tower, essentially inviting confrontational protests with the police and Secret Service who guard the president’s personal residence.

Mayors and governors all over the nation are about to face historic budget shortfalls. They should be thinking far more seriously about restoring some sense of normalcy to their cities before the cutbacks of policing and social services kick in.

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