OPINION | This article contains political commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
To the surprise of LITERALLY NO ONE, Seattle has been a particularly fecal sh*tshow as cities around America are burning in the wake of protests CNN would have you believe are 100% peaceful.
Over the weekend protesters occupied a six-block area on Capitol Hill, chased out the local police, and then on Tuesday stormed City Hall. They plan to stay in their little encampment until Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan resigns. No, this is not a SparkNotes summary of The Hunger Games. This is real life.
Hundreds of protesters, aided by a sympathetic City Council member, stormed Seattle‘s City Hall Tuesday night to demand the mayor’s resignation, just days after seizing a six-block downtown zone that includes a shuttered police precinct.
Demonstrators remained peaceful, without reports of violence or injuries, but are pushing Mayor Jenny Durkan to step down if she refuses to defund the city’s police department.
The protesters continued to camp out in a self-declared “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ)– a region spanning six blocks and encompassing the precinct– which has effectively been abandoned by law enforcement after the Seattle Police Department closed the East Precinct on Monday.
Now, this gradual takeover has been largely peaceful, and Mayor Durkan banned the use of tear gas by the SPD on Friday. None of that stopped the protesters from putting up signs on their blockades reading “now leaving the USA” or “You are entering Free Capitol Hill.”
Protesters have put on the barricades that those coming into the area are “now leaving the USA” and entering the “Cap Hill autonomous zone” or “Free Capitol Hill.” pic.twitter.com/zGNBYAyLOg
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) June 9, 2020
(Check out the rest of this Twitter thread, by the way.)
These adorable little signs seem to allude to similar messages put up in Derry, Northern Ireland and Berlin, Germany.
You know, places that saw the exact same kind of troubles (pun intended) as Seattle.
You remember the wall they put up across the center of Seattle, right? The one that cut families in two, that at least 140 people died trying to cross? The one whose destruction was so powerful and healing that we made the anniversary our national holiday?
And gosh, this is just like Bloody Sunday in 1972. I totally remember police opening fire with actual guns and killing 14 peaceful protesters outright in Seattle. We surely saw a massacre of unarmed people, many of whom were teenagers. I remember reading the statement from a father who watched his unarmed son shot by soldiers, who was shot in the arm while he crawled across open ground to reach his child, put his hand on his back, and say his name, only to find out his son was dead.
How could we forget a month’s worth of newsworthy violence perpetrated in a 24 hour span, especially after learning how covered up it was, how the “investigation” was such a sham? Remember when nail bombs were planted on Seattle protesters after they died?
Oh, wait, hang on. None of that happened in Seattle. None of that happened in America. Nothing that has occurred in the U.S. this century has come close to what Derry and Berlin saw. And yet, these protesters, who won’t have to bury a single one of their family members because of their civil unrest, deign to align themselves with the people of Northern Ireland and Eastern Germany.
I’ll be the first to day that these protests haven’t been over nothing. George Floyd’s death was an act of unbelievable evil, and as these events have unfolded I’ve been shocked and disgusted by the way some police forces have handled themselves.
But I’ve been to Berlin. I’ve been to Derry. I’ve touched the Berlin Wall and stood where the Bloody Sunday victims once walked. I’ve read their stories and felt the pain of them like a hot coal in my chest, and it has been such a privilege to do so. And yeah, I’ll never know what it’s like to be black in America, but I can say for certainty it’s a hell of a lot better than it was to be a Catholic in Northern Ireland or an East Berliner who just wanted freedom.
The gift of these experiences has made me grateful, but it’s also made me very, very angry. It’s made me angry because I know the people who wrote these signs and slapped them on their Capitol Hill barricade believe they’re facing the exact same struggle as they did in Derry or in Berlin.
And there are similarities– unarmed people have been killed. Law enforcement officers have abused their power. But it’s a question of severity and of escalation, and the sheer facts of the matter say that they are not the same. No one in Derry called for deescalation of police tactics. The media in East Berlin did not air a narrative overwhelmingly sympathetic to the dissenters.
They are not the same.
To believe that anyone in America is as oppressed and fearful of their lives as the historical communities these protesters have aligned themselves with is indicative of the most incredible privilege. That they are so blind and devoid of perspective to acknowledge it disgusts me. Seattle protesters, occupiers of Capitol Hill: You should be ashamed of yourselves.