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 June 16, 2023

Judge issues decision to stop Seattle police officers from arresting people for vandalism

A federal judge temporarily blocked Seattle police from arresting people for vandalism, referring to the actions as a First Amendment issue.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman made the ruling on Wednesday.

The issue

"Pechman wrote Tuesday that the city’s current statute could be used for censorship, noting that 'there is allegedly a policy not to arrest children drawing rainbows on the sidewalk,' but the statute would allow for that or the arrest of 'those who might scribe something that irks an individual officer,'" the Seattle Times reported.

"The injunction caused turbulence among the city’s criminal law staff on Wednesday, as it enjoined the whole of the city’s property destruction code, not just the section related to graffiti," it added.

The background

"Seattle has been wrestling with rising crime, including graffiti, since the Black Lives Matter movement, when the city council voted to 'defund' police and left-wing activists seized part of the city for an 'autonomous' zone," Breitbart News reported.

“Since 2019, incidents of graffiti reported by the public have grown over 50%, including nearly 20,000 reports of graffiti and tagging in 2021,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said last year in launching a new enforcement plan.

"We understand and share the concerns that are being relayed to us by our community, businesses and residents alike," the Seattle Police Department said in a statement following the ruling.

"We know, as evidenced by the thousands of calls for service we receive each year reporting acts of vandalism and other forms of property damage that property damage is, in fact, a crime that is of significance to community members. SPD is working closely with the Mayor’s Office and City Attorney’s Office to assess next steps with the Court," it added.

The public safety situation is expected to grow worse in Seattle following the ruling as police will be unable to arrest anyone for property damage under the ruling.

The decision adds to existing crime concerns in the area in recent years that have led some city businesses to close or move over safety issues and loss of business.

The ruling may claim to be about free speech but the result will likely lead to less safety for the people of Seattle.

Written By:
Dillon Burroughs

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