The anti-gun bias in the media is nothing new, but we are seeing a new twist from some reporters these days. Guns are still bad, unless they’re in the hands of the Left’s new heroes at CHAZ in Seattle, or perhaps wielded by self-proclaimed antifascists. In that case, while gun ownership isn’t exactly praised, the guns and gun owners aren’t vilified either.
On today’s Bearing Arms Cam & Co. we dive deep into the double standard, starting with a recent story in the Washington Post on the “volunteer security” popping up in what it euphemistically describes as the “Seattle protest zone.” The Post paints a glowing portrayal of a police-free environment.
The zone was formed last week amid the Black Lives Matter protests. Activists had gathered at a neighborhood police precinct to call for accountability and an end to police violence. In response, on June 8, police officers left that area. A spontaneous protest encampment has since sprung up outside the building, run by volunteer activists.
Core to the zone is a vision of a self-governed community with no formal policing. Instead, volunteers, many of them avowed police abolitionists, have begun to organize their own safety force.
Among other incidents, these volunteers have confronted a man throwing apples and threatening punches, a car driving toward a large crowd of pedestrians and a vehicle circling the block repeatedly and taking photos. Volunteers say they have engaged with armed visitors from outside the city who came to the zone convinced that Seattle needed saving from left-wing agitators.
They have defused fights, protected store windows from vandals and handled mental-health crises. Protesters rushed to douse the flames when a lone arsonist attempted to set fire to the precinct early Friday. The director of an LGBTQ resource center publicly thanked sentinels from the protest zone Sunday for their assistance watching over a broken window until plywood arrived, attributing the incident to a mental-health or drug-addiction issue with a person who regularly sleeps in the center’s doorway.
Ignored by the Washington Post is the story of John McDermott, whose business in the CHAZ was broken into over the weekend by protesters. The volunteer security at the CHAZ didn’t stop the burglary, and despite more than dozen calls to 911, Seattle police never responded.
McDermott said he got a call Sunday after the suspect smashed a window and got inside his business.
He and his son said the suspect put hand sanitizer all over a cassette tape, pulled out the film, and put hand sanitizer all over it as well as the counter – then lit it all on fire.
McDermott said they walked in right after the fire was lit and managed to quickly snuff it out.
His son, Mason McDermott, said he saw the suspect taking off from the south side of the building.
“I chased him down and a s soon as I came face to face, he came at me so I put him on the ground,” Mason McDermott said. He said he had the suspect pinned while his dad repeatedly called 911.
“At some point he tried to cut me with a box cutter,” Mason said. He pointed to a large rip on his jeans from where the knife cut just his pants.
McDermott said he kept trying to call 911
“I’m told 19 times,” he said. “They alluded they were sending someone… finally said they weren’t going to send somebody,” McDermott said.
“I don’t know what to expect next. If you can’t call the police department, you can’t call the fire department to respond, what do you have?” McDermott said. “Heartbroken. I mean, they are the cavalry,” he said.
Other protesters soon arrived at McDermott’s business to demand the arsonist be freed.
A huge mob just attacked "Small Tender" business demanding a release of man who went into the business and started a fire, the business is located inside the 6 blocks of #CHAZ a 'no-cop zone'. Reporting on the ground in #Seattle pic.twitter.com/GeTRheQXFo
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) June 15, 2020
The McDermotts say they were both armed, but thankfully didn’t have to use their firearms in self-defense. Meanwhile, this is what the Washington Post has to say about the armed protesters guarding the CHAZ.
Firearms present a different challenge. Many of the volunteers are licensed gun owners, but bringing a weapon changes the dynamic. “If you are open-carrying, de-escalation is more challenging because at that point you are also a threat to anyone that you come up to,” [protester Mark] Markinson said.
But that can leave volunteers vulnerable. Sentinels say they are particularly concerned about right-wing groups such as the far-rjght Three Percenters and the Proud Boys, a group that has made headlines for its part in violent clashes in Portland, Ore., and New York.
An uneasy compromise could be seen early Sunday, when a sentinel who gave his name as James Madison stood at the southern barricade with an AR-15 draped over his chest, as he has done on other nights.
Madison said he was standing guard because of reports of a “known threatening vehicle” circling near the autonomous zone. “We found the owner of that threatening vehicle’s Twitter, and he clearly intended to do harm to the protesters based on his tweets,” he said in a text message. “There are a few of us who are armed.”
I believe this marks the first time in history that the Washington Post has written about someone holding an AR-15 without condemning them for their behavior. “James Madison” is described simply as a “sentinel,” not an “extremist,” “gun nut,” or “tool of the gun lobby.” Apparently you just need to be armed for the right reasons in order to get the tacit approval of the Post.
Protecting CHAZ gets you a green light, but protecting businesses? That’s still a red flag. as the website Crosscut recently made clear in a story headlined “AR-15’s complicate anti-racism protests across Washington.”
The increased presence of armed individuals and groups at protests are just part of a broader trend the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has seen in what it calls “gun sanctuary” movements, said Hannah Friedman, a litigation attorney at the national public interest law center.
The zenith of the trend was early this year in Virginia, Friedman said, when the newly Democratic Legislature was poised to pass several gun safety laws and thousands of gun rights activists protested. But the presence of semi-automatic guns at a protest, like the commonly seen AR-15, is less about the Second Amendment and more about the message it communicates, Friedman said.
“[They’re] more about what the firearm has represented over history as a symbol of white supremacy, and as a symbol of white power and the threat of violence over nonwhite people in public spaces,” Friedman said. “That is the message they’re sending to the rest of the country. It’s a reminder of this country’s history. It’s a reminder of this country’s racialized violence that really has nothing to do with anyone’s lives, except for the people whose lives they’re endangering by bringing these very dangerous weapons into public spaces.”
I spoke at the Lobby Day rally in Virginia back in January, and the thousands of firearms that were lawfully carried by the throng of attendees was hardly a statement about white power or white supremacy. In fact, that rally was about as big a tent as you can find in American politics these days, with people of every ethnicity, race, and political persuasion in attendance. Black gun owners hung out with white gun owners beneath a rainbow Gadsden flag. Members of the socialist John Brown Rifle Club chatted with Trump-supporting gun owners, and the event was loud, boisterous, and completely peaceful. One woman was arrested for violating the state’s anti-mask ordinance (ironic in retrospect), but even those charges were dismissed.
Yet that gatherings is still being portrayed by the media as something dangerous and disturbing, while they blithely ignore similarly armed protesters (admittedly in far smaller numbers) who are protecting their self-proclaimed autonomous zone, which is itself a Second Amendment Sanctuary where gun laws are ignored by residents and not enforced by law enforcement.
It won’t be long before the Washington Post once again calls for a ban on AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles. When they do, be sure to remind them that they’re demanding “James Madison” be disarmed as well. In a police-free place like the CHAZ, who exactly does the Post envision enforcing the gun control laws they’re demanding?