the upcoming capital hill confrontation with police

in interesting storm is brewing here in seattle– and it’s not an alaskan front. the “battlefield” will be cal anderson park in the capital hill area. authorities are set to clear the park out. it’s not going to be without pain. people experiencing homelessness live there. since the covid restrictions, their number has grown since the park has been closed down. but if it were only people who are experiencing homelessness, the authorities would have an easy time of it. homeless people have no power. there are groups of other people who have allied themselves with those who live in the park who will fight for them– even with violence– against police. a good number of these allies were part of the occupied territory of the capital hill organized protest (CHOP) this summer. that whole drama was disastrous on many levels. ever since the 1999 WTO riots in seattle, we have seen these types of conflict; this is the latest battlefield. with businesses and residents negatively affected and voicing their desire for the city to “do their job,” this conflict is coming to a head.

here is the latest chapter of this public drama that will enable police to act probably today: this drama has unfold into a predictable stalemate that will be settled with those with better physical weapons…

since the debacle of CHOP and the mishandling of the situation by the city and police, the police chief, carmen best has stepped down and mayor durken has announced that she will not seek re-election next year. on the other side, there are no public leaders and there are many reports of internal squabbles for power and direction.

this confrontation will be very chaotic and more violent than what happened this summer.

i imagine that few inside the encampment adhere to the principles of non violent non cooperation as means of protest. those that do, will not be seen on camera since the violence is what is more visually captivating. in various movements, non violent non cooperation is seen as what was done in the past and what was done back then was ineffective. i do not buy into this argument.

in our current ultra-pragmatic and instantaneous-results culture, it is little wonder that ghandi and ml king jr’s methods are rejected. but i am still of the mind that the end does not justify the means. we cannot use evil means towards a good end. violence just begets more violence.

for me, that is why this situation is frustrating. there are various good values at odds: safety and health of the community at large and dignified treatment of people experiencing homelessness. indeed the dignity of the human person is at the center of this conflict.

let’s wait and see what actually happens.

until then, let us pray in the words of martin luther king jr:

O God, make us willing to do your will, come what may. Increase the number of persons of good will and moral sensitivity. Give us renewed confidence in nonviolence and the way of love as taught by Christ. Amen.

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