Trump Threatens to Invade Seattle
“Trump’s threat to send military to Seattle in retaliation against the youth-led anti-racist movement is a sign the right wing is growing scared…”
In a bizarre, but perhaps not unexpected, turn for the “autonomous zone” set up in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump took aim at the cobbled-together protest area.
A group of protestors and Seattle residents occupied the area near Seattle’s East Precinct Monday night after the police department stood down from a tense standoff with protestors.
Trump tweeted, “Radical Left Governor Jay Inslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [stopped] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!”
President Trump has made recurring references to Antifa and anarchists as provocateurs and even declared Antifa as a terrorist organization despite the FBI finding “no intel indicating Antifa involvement” in any protest violence.
Grasping at Straws
Another noteworthy Trump outburst involved the 75-year-old man and activist Martin Gugino who was pushed to the ground by two Buffalo police officers last week. Blood spilled from Gugino’s head while other police officers ignored the visibly injured elderly man.
While Gugino laid in the hospital, Trump tweeted that Gugino “could be an ANTIFA provocateur” and hinted that the police violence might be a setup.
The completely baseless accusations against Gugino and the outrage over Seattle’s community space are a result of Trump shouting for more law and order in the face of antiracist protests across the nation.
Since the coronavirus crisis began, Trump’s approval ratings have been on the decline. And despite a variety of gaffes from challenger Joe Biden, Trump is floundering in early polls especially in important swing states Michigan and Wisconsin, which he won in the 2016 election.
Making bold claims about septuagenarian protestors, pow-wows in Seattle, and the need to “dominate the streets”, Trump has been increasing the threatening language in his rhetoric as the 2020 elections near.
And with the coronavirus crisis perpetuating and spiking in several states, Trump has taken the next step and announced the return of his trademark rallies. The first rally is scheduled for June 19 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, making the rally significant for multiple reasons.
Never without his theatrical flair, the rally is on Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the end of slavery. Tulsa was also the setting for some of America’s deadliest race riot. In 1921 white Tulsa residents attacked black residents, their homes, and businesses resulting in 36 deaths and immense property damage.
While Trump is making noise out of Seattle and stoking tensions within the community, he also called out Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a Democrat unpopular with many Seattle protestors.
Durkan announced a 30-day ban on tear gas after the police used the chemical agent against protestors multiple nights in a row. But several days after Durkan’s announcement, Seattle PD once again used tear gas and flash bombs against peaceful protests.
Three city councilmembers called for Durkan’s resignation after the police used violent tactics to keep protestors at bay. Three more city councilmembers would have to join the first councilmembers’ calls for Durkan to be forced out.
In response to the President, Durkan tweeted, “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.”
But one of the councilmembers who called on Durkan to resign, Kshama Sawant, issued a much more forceful statement. She said, “Trump’s threat to send military to Seattle in retaliation against the youth-led anti-racist movement is a sign the right wing is growing scared of the powerful example. We reject Trump and his horrific, reactionary agenda. No military, no national guard, no racist police.”
While those within the “autonomous zone” in Seattle try to hash out exactly what their collective demands are, their act of protest has spun out into a national story. Whether Trump follows up on his threats or uses it as a distraction is a question of time and other intervening factors.