Antifa thugs armed with semi-automatic weapons took over six-blocks of Seattle, dubbing it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). These amateur security forces patrolled the area and set up security checkpoints. At one point, a man was caught on tape handing out semi-automatic rifles from the trunk of his car to apparent strangers to protect the area from non-existent right-wing threats. They were playing a dangerous game of police cosplay.
Democrat politicians generally either defended or ignored the Antifa violence at CHAZ. They treated the violence that raged across the region for months the same way.
But the moment conservatives showed up to their own rallies armed, suddenly Democrats were quick to act.
After the notorious and deadly “summer of love,” Washington legislators are now trying to ban the right to open-carry at public protests. It’s a Democrat attempt at killing two birds with one stone: attacking both the right to bear arms and peacefully assemble in one bill.
Ignoring the fact that Washington is an open-carry state, activists are pushing Democrats to ban open carry at protests under the specious argument that it intimidates the opposition.
“We’re focusing this year on restrictions to open carry, we really have to stop the intimidation through the open carry of firearms,” Renee Hopkins, Executive Director of Washington’s Alliance for Gun Responsibility, told a local radio station, citing the shootings in Kenosha, WI and local conflicts at rallies in Olympia, WA. “And this is one of the most alarming trends that we’ve seen this year is the increase in armed vigilante activity and threats with firearms.”
Imagine activists proudly declaring a focus on restrictions of specific speech during protests. It’d be met with justifiable outrage.
Yet in Washington state, where anti-gun activists are supported by a Democrat-controlled legislature, chipping away at gun rights has become a sport. Never mind that conservative activists often open-carry for personal protection as police are reluctant to get involved when Antifa agitators arrive to counter “protest” with threatened violence.
Unfortunately, this ban has support. The Senate bill, pre-filed by Democratic State Senators Patty Kuderer and Mona Das, already has 15 total sponsors.
“We’ve had quite a few examples in the last few months of armed folks showing up at other people’s protests with the apparent intent to intimidate or threaten them from being able to exercise their First Amendment rights,” State Senator Jamie Pedersen (D-Seattle) warned during a conference in December.
This move is highly ironic, given how Antifa activists and other criminal agitators held the region hostage for months, openly displaying weapons at events deemed “peaceful protests” by the national media. Instead of being condemned, they were either ignored or supported by Democrat lawmakers.
CHAZ is the most egregious and obvious example. Ceded by anti-gun Mayor Jenny Durkan after several nights of violence, security was passed to the untrained Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club. But they weren’t alone.
A local activist, Raz Simone, was recorded handing out semi-automatic weapons to CHAZ supporters. During a Facebook Live stream on his page, Simone handed one firearm to an apparent stranger who identified himself as an 18-year-old.
Was there progressive outcry about easy access to guns and a lack of background checks? No. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Days after the armed Antifa activists started their patrols and Simone handed out weapons, Mayor Durkan told CNN that CHAZ had a “block party atmosphere” that could develop into a “summer of love.” Meanwhile Governor Jay Inslee, whose obsessively anti-gun votes cost him his seat in Congress, told reporters at the time that he hadn’t even heard of CHAZ.
But these violent protests weren’t confined to CHAZ, as evidenced by the vicious assault of a police officer with a baseball bat last month. The assailant, later identified as the son of a former Democrat representative, was accused by police of planning other sophisticated attacks against police, and charged with assault in the first degree.
And who can forget the many Molotov cocktail attacks against police officers and their buildings? There was one attack at the police union headquarters by two masked assailants. Another thrown at police while breaking up a “protest” where investigators recovered a crate of Molotov cocktails. There was even an incident where agitators used cement to seal shut the door to a police precinct, while activists tried to set fire to the building, attempting to burn the officers inside alive. Luckily, it failed.
All of these incidents at what Democrats called “protests” shared more than suspects inspired by Antifa ideology: they were all met with silence from Democrat lawmakers. Good luck finding a Democrat holding city or statewide elected office directly condemning Antifa activism at all.
What’s worse, you had some lawmakers endorsing the violence. After riots in Downtown Seattle, councilmember Tammy Morales told her colleagues, “What I don’t want to hear is for our constituents to be told to be civil, not to be reactionary, to be told looting doesn’t solve anything.” She wondered “why looting bothers people so much more” than what the activists were complaining about.
Yet when conservatives legally open-carry at protests, suddenly, there is concern and legislation? There doesn’t even seem to be recognition as to why some open-carry in the first place.
No doubt, some do it to intimidate. But it’s also because Antifa activists have routinely used weapons to terrorize conservative protesters across Washington state. They often show up as counter-protesters with the intent to agitate and start fights.
Police rarely get involved, as their mere presence instigates more unhinged responses from the Left. Conservative protesters are sitting ducks feeling unprotected as Antifa, suited-up in protective gear, shows up for a fight.
Not only does this legislation weaken already precarious gun rights in a state hostile towards them, it further codifies protections for violent instigators, while promulgating violence against conservatives who just want the right to peacefully assemble without the threat of being attacked.
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The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.