Seattle is in the grip of a far-left mindset. That became all the more evident, as if evidence were needed, during last year’s city council elections. Many foresaw these as likely to bring to leadership a new breed of business-backed politicians bent on repudiating the council’s progressive-socialist leanings. Finally, it was predicted, a sane brand of political moderation would emerge in Seattle government.
It didn’t happen. In the campaign’s final days, the top issue became the intent of Amazon and its leader Jeff Bezos to “buy” the election with a $1.5 million cash infusion into the coffers of the city’s business coalition. “Within days,” wrote Christopher Rufo of City Journal, “the referendum on a failed city council had been transformed into a referendum on corporate power.” There could be no question as to who would win that contest.
The result, said Rufo, was “the most liberal city council in history,” one that seems to be “out for revenge” against business interests and their moderate supporters. The stated agenda of many city council members now includes rent control, drug-consumption sites, the decriminalization of prostitution, the legalization of homeless encampments, the defunding of significant police programs, free public transit, and big new taxes on the rich, with particular emphasis, not surprisingly, on Amazon and its top executives. Left of Bang: How the ... Best Price: $12.13 Buy New $14.63 (as of 08:15 EST - Details)
A question that has haunted this city in recent weeks is to what extent this potent liberal sensibility contributed to the ghastly downtown event that occurred January 22. That was when three men, apparently street gang members, got embroiled in a rush-hour gunfight at the crowded intersection of Pine Street and Third Avenue. A 50-year-old female, described by the Seattle Times as a “joyful woman who lived a rich life,” was killed, and seven others were wounded, including one of the shooters. After the melee, police found some 20 shell casings at the scene.
While the local paper’s extensive coverage of the event and its aftermath didn’t explicitly raise the question of liberalism’s culpability, it nevertheless seemed to be on the minds of some Seattleites interviewed by the Times. A main focus for many was why these men were on the street in the first place and why city officials can’t find effective ways to combat such violence. Those who initiated the gun battle had extensive criminal records that reflected a certain persistent laxity in the application of the law. One Times headline read: “Tragic violence, unsurprising story.” The subhead: “Seattle’s long-running effort to address crime and sporadic violence downtown falls short.”
Attention turned inevitably to the three suspects. One of them, Jamel Jackson, 21, had previously been involved in a violent incident at the same downtown intersection, when he allegedly punched and kicked a victim who got embroiled with a female gang member in the middle of a large crowd. He had in his possession a loaded 9-mm handgun. He avoided prosecution for the assault by pleading guilty to illegal firearm possession, for which he was sentenced to four months of home detention. According to the Times, he had been told by at least four superior court judges that he was not to possess firearms, a proscription that he apparently ignored with impunity.