On Wednesday in the Washington State gubernatorial debate, Governor Inslee denied comments he made in June that he was unaware of the existence of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).
Brandi Kruse, a Seattle journalist with Q13 Fox News and one of the journalists moderating the debate, asked Inslee about those comments: “What should voters make of the fact that you were apparently oblivious to police abandoning an entire precinct in the state’s largest city?”
“If you look at the facts of the situation,” Inslee answered, “I could not have been oblivious to it because I actually deployed the Washington State National Guard.”
Kruse’s question was in regards to comments made by Inslee in June when he was asked about a group of protesters who had taken over an area of six city blocks in Capitol Hill two days prior.
“Governor, I’d like to ask you about what’s going on in Seattle,” one reporter asked during a news conference on June 10th. “There’s a thing called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. What’s your thought of that and the fact that the protesters have taken that over and not allowing people to come and go freely?”
“That’s news to me,” Inslee responded at the time, “so I’ll have to reserve any comment about it. I have not heard anything about that.”
Now, Inslee is attempting to counter his own comments, claiming that he did know about the Capitol Hill situation when he was asked about it on June 10th. “Listen, I knew about CHOP,” he said Wednesday. “That’s why we had state troopers ready to respond at the city’s request.”
Protests began in Seattle on May 29th after the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis. Inslee activated the National Guard on May 30th at the request of the City of Seattle to help protect property and control crowds.
But this was all before protesters ran police out of the East Precinct on Capitol Hill and declared an “autonomous zone”.
Protests had been intense since their beginning in late May, with protesters throwing bricks and projectiles at officers, and officers responding by deploying tear gas and other crowd-dispersing tactics. The Seattle Police Department abandoned the East Precinct on June 8th in what then-Police Chief Carmen Best called “an exercise of trust and de-escalation.”
Armed protesters responded by barricading an area of the neighborhood and declaring it a “no police zone”.
The news conference where Inslee denied knowledge of the situation occurred 48 hours later on June 10th.
Protesters occupied the area until July 1st. In the few weeks of its existence, multiple people were injured in shootings and two African-American teenagers were killed.
Inslee did deploy the National Guard, but that deployment occurred over a week before the establishment of CHAZ in response to the protests that erupted in late May.
Governor Jay Inslee (D) is running for a third term in Washington State against Republican Loren Culp, a former police officer who is pushing back against Inslee’s far-left policies. If elected, Inslee would be the first governor in 40 years to serve a third term.