OPINION | Questioning Who is Responsible for Abandoning Seattle's East Precinct to CHAZ/CHOP

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OPINION | The opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer, and may not necessarily reflect those of Tatum Report LLC


Two disclaimers are necessary before moving on in this mucked-up, finger-pointing political miasma.

First, I served in the Seattle Police Department (SPD) for over two decades, almost all of it assigned to the now infamous East Precinct. The police station that sat within the borders of an armed, actual insurrection known as CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) and later CHOP (Capitol Hill Organized Protest).

I’ve known some of the people involved for nearly 30 years. One person and I were in the police academy simultaneously, one I worked an off-duty gig with for several years, and another had been my sergeant.

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I’m writing about the situation within the context of a lawsuit filed by an SPD official regarding his treatment during the general response to riots across the city. And some Seattle City Council and community members who filed complaints with the SPD Office of Police Accountability (OPA) alleging policy and law violations committed by SPD commanders by “abandoning” the East Precinct in 2020.

Second, it was The Seattle Times that published much of the information referenced herein. The Times has become, with a few exceptions, a full-time, far-left propaganda outlet, which is a part of the story and should be taken with a bushel of salt.

For example, consider the first paragraph story summary:

“The Seattle Police Department’s abandonment of its East Precinct on Capitol Hill during last summer’s racial justice protests did not violate any laws or department policies, the city’s police oversight office found Monday.” [emphasis mine]

Referring to these violent attacks on one of America’s major cities using a far-left radical euphemism, “racial justice protests,” taints the article with a significant truth deficit. Not once in this nearly 1,649-word story does the word riot or rioter appear. And they mentioned the word violence only once, in the context of the police “deploying unnecessary violence against protesters.”

Ironically, after all the violence and damage caused by BLM, the Marxist organization’s local chapter is suing the city for, what else, “violence against protesters” (rioters). It should also be noted, and though it was little reported, police arrested a BLM member for alleged “hate crimes” against several Asian people during an uptick in media reporting such incidents earlier this year.

This is despite SPD officers being mired in recurring riots in the city.

For example, on July 25, 2020, according to KIRO 7 News, rioters injured 59 Seattle police officers. Or, if the Times was reporting on it, “racial justice protesters” injured nearly 60 cops. There is no word on the DOJ investigating the massive violence and destruction wrought by BLM/Antifa in 2020, continuing into 2021, including at least 25 murders.

But the DOJ will investigate concerned parents at school board meetings, so… that’s the same.

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Also, in a story about a violent takeover of a portion of a major American city, the Times never used the words, damage, arson, rape, robbery, assault, graffiti, looting (all of which took place), or even murder (except twice, only referencing George Floyd). This is despite two people being murdered during the CHOP siege.

The Office of Police Accountability (OPA) released its results following an investigation regarding SPD’s abandoning the East Precinct after 10 days of “protests” (riots). A demoted command staff-level officer who felt the department unfairly disciplined him for decisions made during the riots sued the city. He felt the department did not similarly discipline his peers for comparable actions.

Also spawning the investigations were anti-cop city officials and their supporters in the community filing complaints. The plaintiff and complainants accused the chief (at the time) and other command staffers of misconduct. They said the commanders failed “to take responsibility for their respective commands, didn’t adhere to laws or policies, used improper discretion, and were unprofessional.”

Okay, as they say, let’s cut to the chase.

City officials snatched away some of the most effective tools from the cops’ arsenal, restricting their ability to act against violent rioters. Knowing the precinct contained “police vehicles, firearms, investigative files, and other sensitive information,” the mayor still ordered the chief to remove the physical barriers placed outside as a protection on the precinct’s perimeter.

It was after this removal of the protective barricade, after removing the above-listed items from the precinct, and after learning factions in the BLM/Antifa crowd were “handing out firearms,” that an unidentified commander ordered the precinct abandoned.

Essentially, the unknown commander, hands, and feet effectively shackled could not protect the precinct. Then those same city officials generally condemned the chief and command staff for failing to prevent the fall of a police precinct caught in the illegal occupation of a chunk of the city.

The story became, “Who gave the order to abandon the precinct?” This was a distraction to take the focus and blame away from the mayor and especially the city council for creating a situation where SPD commanders felt they had no choice.

When the people responsible for guaranteeing you have the means to accomplish your mission instead take those means away, you don’t choose to abandon a precinct; you’re left with no option but to abandon it.

Expressly, the then chief likely delegated the responsibility for the East Precinct to a subordinate who knew the precinct very well, probably having worked there for many years. This delegating may be arguable to some, but at least it makes some sense because, though CHOP was the focus, BLM and Antifa rioters were engaged in violent attacks at locations around the city.

Before ordering the barricades removed, Mayor “Summer of Love” criticized SPD commanders for having a “bunker mentality.” This is an odd comment, considering an SPD precinct was literally under siege at the time.


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Steve Pomper is an author, freelance writer, and retired Seattle police officer. During his career, he served as a field training officer, on the Community Police Team, and as a mountain bike patrol coordinator. He’s written five books, including The Obama Gang and De-Policing America, and he is a contributor to the National Police Association and a freelance writer for The Tatum Report.

Originally from New England, he’s a Boston sports fan. He now lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife, Jody, a retired firefighter. He enjoys spending time with his adult kids and three grandchildren.