A civil emergency order in Bellevue, Washington issued over the weekend in preparation for what might have turned into a violent demonstration was lifted Monday morning by Mayor Lynne Robinson after the protest remained peaceful as a crowd that gathered Saturday night found themselves outnumbered by police.
The emergency order created a “restricted area” in which a ban on weapons existed, but there was a significant exemption: Firearms. Bearing arms in defense of one’s self or the state is protected by the state constitution. Here is the language from the order:”
“Within this restricted area, all persons are prohibited from possessing any weapon (with the exception of firearms), including but not limited to, rocks, bottles, pipes, bats, clubs, chains, sharpened objects, shields, gas, flares, torches, paint balls, light bulbs, any incendiary devices, pry-bars, skateboards, liquid filled balloons, lumber, or any other objects which can be used for infliction of bodily harm or damage to property, if possessed with the intent to cause harm to persons or property. With respect to firearms, all persons are prohibited from discharging any firearms in the restricted area, consistent with the rights of individuals under Article I, section 24 of the state Constitution to bear arms in defense of self or others. This restriction shall not apply to peace officers or military personnel engaged in the performance of their official duties.”
Article 1, Section 24 of the Washington State Constitution says this:”
“The right of the individual citizen to bear arms in defense of himself, or the state, shall not be impaired, but nothing in this section shall be construed as authorizing individuals or corporations to organize, maintain or employ an armed body of men.”
This language is stronger than that found in the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment, say gun rights advocates.
According to KOMO News, the Seattle-based ABC affiliate, Mayor Robinson had issued the order “to protect public safety because of “demonstrations from multiple, opposing groups.”
Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett told KIRO News that his department received information that some of the demonstrators headed his way were also involved in Seattle protests that turned violent and destructive.
“Their intention was to repeat the same type of behavior here in Bellevue, and that is to break windows, to engage in property destruction, set dumpsters on fire,” Mylett said.
For some strange reason, the KOMO report on this incident stated, “The ban on weapons couldn’t include firearms due to special provisions in the state constitution, but police would have been allowed to take action if they were displayed.” It is not clear what the so-called “special provision” is, but protecting the right to keep and bear arms is hardly a “special provision,” gun rights activists say.
Reports indicate police found hidden caches of bricks, bottles and even propane tanks, apparently intended for use to trash and even burn buildings
Mylett told KOMO, “One of the businesses here found propane tanks stuffed in the bushes. So all of this, combined plus their history in Seattle that led us to believe that they were getting ready to launch an attack.”
While one Bellevue resident told KOMO the protesters “had a peaceful march” through the downtown Bellevue area, it appears they planned something quite different.