Judge to Seattle criminals – we won’t stop you from destroying property

Judge to Seattle criminals – we won’t stop you from destroying property

U.S District Court Judge Marsha Pechman has issued an injunction barring the city of Seattle from enforcing its ban on graffiti. In doing so, she has also declared the prosecution of all destruction of property to be unconstitutional. 

In her decision, Pechman wrote, “While there is allegedly a policy not to arrest children drawing rainbows on the sidewalk, the Ordinance itself allows the police to do just that and to arrest those who might scribe something that irks an individual officer.” While the case in question revolved around sidewalk chalk on a temporary wall outside SPD’s East Precinct, her decision will have far-reaching consequences. 

Mayor Bruce Harrell has focused on graffiti as part of his Beautify Seattle plan and the City Attorney’s office has been stalwart in addressing property destruction cases. Now, that will have to change. City Attorney Ann Davison’s office said it would “file a motion asking Judge Pechman for expedited reconsideration of the order. The Criminal Division of the Seattle City Attorney’s Office will not be filing property destruction charges under this law for the time being.”

Seattle Police Department is also expressing concern over this ruling in a statement which said, “We are bound by the court order as it is written.” It continued, “We understand and share the concerns that are being relayed to us by our community, businesses and residents alike. 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.” 

In other words, the City Attorney’s Office and SPD have confirmed criminals will face no consequences for their crimes. Those who are there to protect the city have to sit by and do nothing.  

The City Attorney’s office has asked for clarification on the ruling. It’s possible that Pechman only intended for her ruling to apply to graffiti (and potentially only temporary graffiti like that done in chalk). They issued a statement saying “we anticipate that the Court will issue an order confirming” a narrowed scope, which would allow them to enforce other violations like property damage. 

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