As Ashley Nerbovig explained in today's Slog AM, the City Property Destruction Law was paused by a federal judge because it's way too broad. It covers more than it should. It gives the police a bazooka rather than a stick. This is the "reason for the order—SPD officers blatantly abusing their power to arrest as a way to discourage free speech." The SPD arrested, in 2021, a number of people "for using chalk and charcoal to write 'peaceful protest' and other political messages on the eco-blocks surrounding the East Precinct."

Can you not see this as a problem? Does this even have to be controversial? The SPD, of course, made the matter solely about the destruction of property (graffiti) and how progressives are blocking them, once again, from enforcing the law (property rights). And what is the key function of the police but exactly this? As Adam Smith, the father of capitalist economics (not a commie in any way), put it over 200 years ago, the police protect people who have property from those who do not. (The relevant passage is quoted at the end of this post.) 

But what I want to consider in this post is one part of the social, political, and cultural impact of CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest), initially called CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone). This part is political. And though the protest lasted barely three weeks in June 2020, it is still very much with us today. We have not left its shadow. The feeling that officers are leaving the SPD in droves is structured by this event, which has its origin in a protest that demanded nothing more or less than equal treatment under the law. The Seattle Is Dying feeling was intensified by CHOP, and we can also see it as the event that accelerated the homeless sweeps that now define Bruce Harrell's rule of City Hall. CHOP is also proving to be a way for businesses to make some quick cash. Suing the city for inaction, for not beating anti-racist and anti-fascist people down to "bloody atoms," is seen as a grand opportunity to recover from losses that had more to do with the long (but not long enough) lockdown than anything else. Molly Moon, who once sold woke ice cream, recently joined this underworld queue, which we can expect only to grow.

Molly Moon? The liberal? How is this possible? How can anyone in a progressive city attempt to make a quick buck from a Black man (George Floyd) killed by a white police officer (Derek Chauvin)? Don't they see the blood (of Trayvon Martin, of Michael Brown, of Eric Garner, of Rekia Boyd) that drips from this cash? CHOP was about one thing: dead Black people. Molly Moon's lawsuit, shared with Hugo Properties LLC, basically accuses the city of being what it's supposed to be, progressive. It provided protestors "with barriers, dumpsters, hand-washing stations and restrooms, and [allowed] the area to be blocked off from car traffic..."

This is nothing but an identity crisis for a city that, in 2013, elected a hardcore socialist and a number of unrepentant progressives. How did we get from there to a Republican city prosecutor? Much of the answer can be found in the BLM protest, concentrated by CHOP, and its moment, a lockdown that suspended the economy. The combination (protests, lockdown) plunged not only Seattle but many American cities into a political confusion not experienced since surbanization. A homeless crisis caused by an obvious lack of really affordable housing exploded like never before. Cities went sharply to the right because real solutions were not politically available. You were simply left with the appearance (poverty, dissipation, crime) and feelings that were only permitted to react directly to the phenomena of socially imposed poverty and humiliation. 

But there is some good news to consider. It seems that the present era of Bruce Harrells and Eric Adams and the like might be too tied to a moment in time that's losing much of its force. We can see evidence of this enervation in Chicago's and Denver's recent mayoral races. Our Ann Davison might prove to be nothing more than an anomaly, a Seattle vampire who, without media-generated CHOP hysteria, will find it harder and harder to find the blood-rich feeling of fear she needs to keep going.

With that speculation, let's end, as I promised, with the Adam Smith quote:

For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security. He is at all times surrounded by unknown enemies, whom, though he never provoked, he can never appease, and from whose injustice he can be protected only by the powerful arm of the civil magistrate continually held up to chastise it. The acquisition of valuable and extensive property, therefore, necessarily requires the establishment of civil government. Where there is no property, or at least none that exceeds the value of two or three days’ labour, civil government is not so necessary.