In an interview broadcast last night on Sean Hannity’s program, President Trump said he was about to send in forces to take back the area in Seattle known as CHOP. Hannity asked:
I had a source that told me, I was not able to confirm it, that one of the reasons that the Seattle mayor finally acted is that they were given notice that if they didn’t act that you were going to. Is there any truth to that?
A hundred percent. We were going in, we were going in very soon, we let them know that. And they, all of a sudden, they didn’t want that. So they went in before we got there.
But we were going in very shortly, very soon, and we would have taken the CHOP, they call it, CHOP. We would have taken it back very easily. But they went in and, frankly, the people just gave up, they were tired, they had it for a very long period of time.
Later in the interview, Trump added: “Quite frankly, I looked forward to [going into Seattle].”
Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan’s inaction in response to CHOP was scandalous. As Tyler O’Neil of PJ Media recounts:
While Trump called on Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Mayor Durkan to restore order immediately, Inslee and Durkan insisted that it would be “illegal and unconstitutional” to shut down a lawless rebellion. Durkan even insisted CHAZ [as CHOP originally was called] could be “the summer of love.”
The illegal rebellion and occupation derailed much of everyday life for the Seattle residents whose homes and businesses had been seized. Sixteen residents and businesses sued the City of Seattle, alleging that the city failed to protect their rights by not taking action to restore law and order in the CHOP area. In late June, two deadly shootings on two subsequent weekends took the lives of a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, both of them black.
Durkan announced that she would break up CHOP after the first weekend of shootings, but she did not send in police to restore order. Only after the second weekend of shootings did she agree to send in the police, who restored order quickly, as armed militants circled in cars with obscured license plates.
I assumed that Durkan finally broke up CHOP because of the killings of the teenagers. That might be the case. But Trump’s statement to Hannity suggests that, at a minimum, he provided an important incentive for the feckless Durkan to do what she should have done much earlier.
If Durkan had acted earlier, as any half-competent mayor would have done, the two teenage victims would be alive today.