For weeks, members of the Seattle City Council led by Socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant have pressed for slashing the city’s police department budget by 50 percent, but now there’s an online petition opposing the effort and it has gathered more than 40,000 signatures over the course of a few days.
The story has gone national, with Fox News reporting that hundreds of Seattle residents spoke in opposition to the proposal during a council budget committee meeting Wednesday. Police Chief Carmen Best has warned the city that drastic funding cuts will put public safety at risk.
When Sawant spoke to a rally supporting her defunding crusade, the South Seattle Emerald reported a gathering of “over 100 people” on Capitol Hill, the neighborhood where protesters seized six blocks and declared it the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) zone for more than two weeks. During that time, when police were essentially prevented from entering the area for routine patrols, there were two homicides and four other people were wounded in shootings. The effort to create a “Utopia” descended into a “Twilight Zone,” by some accounts. What was peaceful during the daylight hours became less so after the sun went down.
40,000 Signatures and Counting! 👮 Please sign our petition to Stop the Defunding of the Seattle Police Department! https://t.co/LloEYVTdR3
— Seattle Police Officers Guild (@SPOG1952) July 30, 2020
The push back by police supporters comes after a weekend that saw a riot on Saturday during which 59 officers were reportedly injured. What began as a “peaceful” protest quickly deteriorated when someone set fire to several trailers at a construction site. The crowd then began pelting police with fireworks, rocks and bottles.
The Seattle Times is reporting that Saturday’s protest was promoted by the Youth Liberation Front, ostensibly in support of protesters in Portland. In both cities, the protests turned violent.
From all indications, average Seattle residents are increasingly fed up with the far left tilt of the city council, and they are concerned that their safety is being sacrificed to a socialist cause.
Adding to that concern is the revelation that police discovered an array of weapons including smoke bombs and explosives in a van that was parked in the area of the protest/riot.
During the public comment, one caller reportedly described the defunding effort as “a radical experiment that will hurt the vulnerable,” while another declared that defunding “will begin to heal the violence committed by police against Seattle’s Black, Brown and Indigenous communities.”
According to KCPQ, the local Fox News affiliate, “It took nearly three hours to hear from everyone available.” About 300 people had signed up to offer testimony.
A group called “The Every Day March” is reportedly “pushing for the defunding of SPD by marching past council members’ houses, postering, picketing, and leading protests every morning and every night,” according to the Seattle Emerald.
Whether the public push back against the police defunding movement will be successful remains to be seen. But 40,000-plus signatures on a petition sends an unmistakable message to the city that a sizeable number of citizens are telling the council to back off.