After Another Seattle Autonomous Zone, Tactic Won't End in 2021 | Opinion

Seattle activists once again forcibly occupied the park inside the former Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). Both there and at Portland's Red House on Mississippi Ave., Antifa and other agitators held an abandoned home hostage, making a series of demands that couldn't be met.

This dangerous strategy won't just continue in 2021. It will likely spread beyond the Pacific Northwest because cities have shown there are no meaningful consequences to this behavior—one that's driven by adherence to a dangerous ideology.

Like their Portland comrades, Seattle activists are rabidly, if ironically, anti-capitalist. They're mostly in their 20s. Many come from the very privilege they claim to loathe. They drive to the city from affluent Kirkland, Mercer Island or Woodinville to fight imaginary fascists between the shifts at Starbucks their parents, who probably work in upper management at local tech firms, force them to take.

The agitators are looking for a cause and they have their sights set on capitalists. Officials let them use the city as their playground and it's already gotten people killed.

Cal Anderson Park, inside CHAZ, had been closed since the infamous "summer of love" thanks to a homeless encampment. As the city ignored the encampment, it grew larger. There were at least 40 people living in the park, rendering half of it unusable.

The putrid stench of human waste was so powerful around the tents, it made your eyes water. Trash and used needles were everywhere. When Seattle Parks staff came by to clean, they were physically threatened. Imagine what it felt like for nearby residents looking to enjoy the park.

The encampment became increasingly dangerous. There were assaults, fires, gunshots, vandalism and more. Finally, in September, the situation became deadly.

A prolific offender and resident of the encampment, Travis Berge, allegedly murdered his girlfriend. A drug addict with dozens of arrests and convictions to his name, Berge barricaded himself inside the pumping station at the park's fountain. He ended up falling or jumping into a water tank filled with bleach. He died at the scene.

Finally, three months later, the city decided to sweep the park, but faced resistance from Seattle's young activist class, itching for another showdown.

A core group of Antifa black-bloc agitators descended on the park to construct a barricade around the encampment. Staying up through the night, activists used everything from trash bins and fencing to wooden slats and old furniture to fortify its borders. Ultimately, it didn't hold. How could it? It was exactly as stable as a border created by privileged 20-somethings playing dress-up could be.

I was there as Seattle police entered the encampment on Friday, December 18, to control the unruly crowd of about 150 and move out the homeless. City social workers were on site, but the agitators threw bricks and eggs until they retreated.

Here’s the moment they started to move into CHAZ Part 2 at Seattle’s Cal Anderson Park. pic.twitter.com/86QbCvAiJu

— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) December 18, 2020

They’ve moved into Seattle’s second CHAZ. pic.twitter.com/hdcGxroSkP

— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) December 18, 2020
protest
People gather at Copley Square at the Boston Public Library calling for a new political party and system, not happy with either political candidate, in Boston, Massachusetts on November 4, 2020. Joseph Prezioso / AFP/Getty

All the homeless residents were offered shelter beds, but the activists were not satisfied. Therein lies the conflict: activists will only accept literal homes for the homeless. It's not about what's best for the homeless, or even what the homeless want. It's about what the activists want.

The night before the sweep, activists took over an abandoned yellow house across the street from the park. They said they wouldn't leave until their demands were met.

"If the city doesn't choose to give people housing first and housing now before providing other services, this type of occupation, this type of demonstration is going to continue to happen," one activist told a local TV station.

"Ultimately, we demand permanent housing for all," a pink-haired activist added. "Housing is a human right. You cannot sweep away the human beings that our capitalist society deems undesirable. These systemic injustices must be dealt with by top-down reform or they will be met with bottom-up dismantlement."

In other words, do what they say or they will tear down our institutions to build something new. What they build will be no better than the barricade around Cal Anderson Park.

These belligerent activists, convinced they have all the answers, have no real-world experience in creating meaningful change. They don't even have examples showing their ideas work. They speak in bumper-sticker talking points they read on a blog somewhere, using the homeless as props to tear down the capitalist system.

Meanwhile, while activists decry a capitalist system they say dismisses the homeless, the city is trying to bring people indoors, offering them access to running water, heat, food and a bed. Activists would rather human beings sleep amongst their own waste and live with untreated addiction while struggling to find food and stay warm, until they have a home. Remarkably, the homeless living in the encampment weren't even offered the yellow house to sleep in. Housing activists took it over (they abandoned it the next day; the occupation was merely a publicity stunt).

This isn't about the homeless. It's about subsidized housing, which is seen as a way to chip away at the power of private developers. Perhaps activists view it as the only way they can afford to live on their own. It's on a long list of items to which they believe they are entitled, paid for by the wealthy.

It's naive to think mere housing addresses the problem. The homeless weren't born homeless. Something happened—whether addiction and mental illness or bad luck and lack of job skills—that landed them on the streets. Giving someone a house doesn't address why he or she is homeless to begin with. A house won't help most of these people. They need to be brought into the system and given intensive treatment.

But ideologues don't act rationally. And they've been empowered to continue their occupations because in Seattle, like in Portland, there's no real punishment for their behavior. Criminal activists may be arrested, but they rarely see jail time. On the rare occasions they are charged, prosecutors often plead down and offer light sentences, if any at all.

Consequently, the very same activists inspired by the very same misguided ideas engaged in the very same dangerous tactics over and over again. And it's inspired similar activism in Nashville, Denver and New York. Your town is next and we know what will come of it.

At CHAZ, two black teenagers were shot to death. More recently at the occupation, a woman was murdered. And not once do these activists realize how deadly their actions have become. And when cities like Seattle finally intervene, it's often too late. Hopefully your hometown doesn't give an inch because these activists will quite literally take—and occupy—a mile.

Jason Rantz is a frequent guest on Fox News and is the host of the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH Seattle, heard weekday afternoons. You can subscribe to his podcast here and follow him on Twitter: @jasonrantz.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.