“It seems a little idiotic to me.” Those were the words of Seattle City Councilman Bruce Harrell at a hearing discussing the aftermath of the Seattle May Day riots. The words were greeted with a great howl of laughter and applause from the assembled audience. Harrell wasn’t castigating the black-clad vandals that delayed traffic, vandalized property, smashed windows, and assaulted police officers. He was castigating the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for arresting one of them — and Councilman Harrell is the Chairman of Seattle’s Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee.
Yes, Councilman Harrell, chair of the Public Safety Committee, believes that protesters who have publicly expressed an affinity for destroying private property and clashing with police, protesters who inserted clubs up their sleeves before their march, and who were throwing trash and other items at officers, were egged on because one of their own was arrested.In other words, if only the police had been willing to continue being assaulted, none of this violence had to happen.
When enough citizens and police officials (including Seattle’s newly appointed Chief) expressed dismay at these remarks, Harrell dug in and doubled down, telling local Fox affiliate Q13’s Brandi Kruse that his comments were not meant as a judgment for how the police handled the event, but as a way to start to investigate whether the arrest made was the “best possible way.” When he asked the original question he said, “Wouldn’t you agree a person on a bicycle is trying to arrest someone while on the bike from behind is… well, I don’t know how else to say it, it just seems a little idiotic to me. I don’t know how else to describe it.” He spoke right over Assistant Police Chief Wilske who said, unsurprisingly, that bike police are trained for such things. Councilman Harrell asserted the arrest “seemed to cause the melee.”
You can watch the aerial video here. What’s not shown is that one of the protesters who has locked arms with his comrades has allegedly thrown a traffic cone at an officer, which is why the SPD arrests him to begin with. Witness how fast the protesters who were not even impacted by the initial tackle whip out clubs and sticks and start throwing objects at police making the arrest. It is not a crowd spurred to action by police over-reaction, but a crowd already committed to violence. Most of those wielding sticks would not have known if their fellow Marxist — I mean, marcher — had first calmly surrendered by lying down. They see police action and start attacking. Yet the head of Seattle City Council’s JUSTICE Committee looks at this and sees the likelihood of police fault.
I’m looking forward to the next Tea Party rally in Seattle. Apparently, if we choose to throw trash on politicians or assault them with traffic cones, the Seattle City Council would insist on no police interference so that our voices would be heard. But of course, we know this kind of thinking only goes one way. While it might be okay to assault police with trash and whatever you can throw, it’s certainly NOT going to be okay to throw trash on our elected leaders — at least so long as they’re liberal elected leaders.
On the Saturday after the British elections that gave David Cameron a clear Tory majority in Parliament, protesters clashed with police throwing smoke bombs and wearing black masks. Scotland Yard described it as a “spontaneous anti-austerity protest.” While it may be fashionable in London to walk the streets with smoke bombs in your pocket in case you get angry, the presence of such devices leads me to conclude that the disturbance was far from spontaneous. Then again, in the face of an election in which the Tories do better than expected and pull out a clear majority, the British media sees fit to call it a “polarizing election” which, roughly translated, means “our side didn’t win.”
The disorder and lawlessness in our streets is emulated within the halls of our government. Just as protesters of late have ignored property rights, traffic rules, and insist their actions are justified by their cause, regardless of whether they follow the law in pursuing their cause, our government seems intent on ignoring the rules that bind them for the same reason — their cause is right, so the procedures are not to matter.
For example, on Friday the Obama administration admitted that they had issued thousands of work permits to people here illegally despite being under an injunction, thus showing an equal contempt for the courts and the legislative branch of government. The White House might as well be chanting, “This is what Democracy looks like!”
While it is easy to despair in the face of this constant live-action re-imagining of the children’s classic, “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” in which the public is asked to witness what is not there and believe what clearly isn’t true, conservatives can take heart in the election outcome in Britain where despite being written off for dead the Tories emerged more powerful than before.
Perhaps the spreading absurdity here will have the same effect.