(Abdul–Rahman Oladimeji Bello, Headline USA) A Seattle judge recently issued an injunction barring Seattle police from arresting people for vandalism-related charges, in a ruling that many feared would lead to widespread destruction of public and private property.
According to the Seattle Times, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman’s ruling outlaws arrests under the city’s property damage law in favor of four plaintiffs who claim the contested law violated their First and 14th Amendment rights, amongst others.
The plaintiffs argued that the law, which allows attorneys to prosecute anyone who “writes, paints, or draws any inscription, figure, or mark of any type on any public or private building” on any property valued less than $1,000 violate their rights.
The case dates back to January 2021, when Seattle police arrested four taggers for defacing public property with profanity-laced, anti-cop graffiti outside a precinct during a series of BLM riots that rocked the city.
I’m told City Atty Ann Davison is appealing this ruling as fast as legally possible.
Mayor Harrell is also preparing a response. Prosecuting graffiti arrests has been his big priority.
But- for now, the property destruction ordinance in Seattle has been thrown into reverse.
— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) June 14, 2023
According to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Branden Pence, the law “is written in a way that maybe, if the police were reasonable and could be trusted to exercise their discretion in a just way, it wouldn’t have ever become a problem.” However, he argued that “the fact is they can’t be trusted.”
The district judge said that the law “poses a real threat [of] censorship” and ruled against enforcing the vandalism law. “The criminalization of free speech significantly harms the public interest in far greater measure than the public might benefit from criminalizing property damage,” he ruled.
Seattle police and residents lashed out at the ruling, which they said would lead to widespread vandalism.
“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,” the Seattle Police Department said.
“Vandalism is now explicitly legal in Seattle,” tweeted Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk.
Seattle police have been told that “until further notice,” they must stop enforcing any property crimes causing less than $750 in damage. Vandalism is now explicitly legal in Seattle.
This is what the left means by “equity.”
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 14, 2023
Headline USA’s Mark Pellin contributed to the report