Seattle's 'Autonomous Zone' is latest escalation in city's lurch to the left: What to know

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The Seattle government this week essentially ceded a six-block area of its city to protesters declaring a cop-free "Autonomous Zone," a dramatic loss of control by a government and police force — and another sign of the leftward lurch in a city that has a history of being one of the biggest bastions for radical progressive activism in the country.

Protesters demanding that Mayor Jenny Durkan step down if she refuses to defund the city's police department are camped out in a self-declared “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” (CHAZ). The region spans six blocks and encompasses the Seattle Police Department East Precinct, which was effectively abandoned and boarded up on Monday.

The Seattle Times reported Wednesday that on the shuttered precinct a sign now reads “THIS SPACE IS NOW PROPERTY OF THE SEATTLE PEOPLE.” The takeover comes in the wake of nationwide unrest after the death of George Floyd.

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President Trump has decried the Seattle government's apparent lack of desire to keep control of the area, and threatened in a tweet late Wednesday to step in with federal forces. His message was met with derision from both Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Durkan, both apparently expressing sympathy for the people of CHAZ.

"Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before," Trump tweeted. "Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped (sic) IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!"

Durkan responded: "Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker. #BlackLivesMatter."

SEATTLE PROTESTERS STORM CITY HALL, DEMAND MAYOR RESIGN AFTER DRIVING POLICE OUT OF AREA, DECLARING AUTONOMOUS ZONE

"A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business. 'Stoop' tweeting," Inslee posted, mocking a spelling error in Trump's original post.

After a weekend that included some violent clashes with police, demonstrators in the "Autonomous Zone" have largely remained peaceful, without reports of violence or injuries, though the Seattle police are reporting there are armed guards in the area and that businesses in the zone are being extorted by protesters.

The takeover of a large section of downtown Seattle is just one of many instances of far-left sentiment among the city's people and leaders in recent years. Here's what to know about Seattle's left-wing proclivities:

SEATTLE 'AUTONOMOUS ZONE' HAS ARMED GUARDS, LOCAL BUSINESSES THREATENED WITH EXTORTION, POLICE SAY

It's a sanctuary city

Seattle labels itself a "Welcoming City," a term that references its sanctuary city status.

In practice, this means that Seattle tells its police officers "to refrain from requiring the immigration status of any person" with limited exceptions and does not enforce "civil federal immigration violations such as lack of immigration status."

The city does not have jurisdiction over its jails, but the King County, where Seattle resides, refuses to honor Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) detainers for illegal immigrants who don't have a federal criminal warrant.

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Durkan previously touted a 2018 federal court ruling that declared it would be unconstitutional for the federal government to hold back funding from sanctuary cities over a refusal to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

"We have law and justice on our side," she said. "This ruling is a victory for welcoming cities everywhere. It confirms the administration's actions violate the constitution. We refuse to back down in the face of unjust attacks on our rights and our communities."

City Council members this week vowed to cut police funding by 50 percent

In reaction to the violent clashes between police and protesters over the weekend, according to Q13 Fox, multiple Seattle City Council members promised they would slash the police department's funding by half.

"I am committed to defunding the police, to using most of that money, 50 percent ideally, to invest back into communities that we've failed," Teresa Mosqueda told Q13 Fox.

Durkan has said she wouldn't back such a significant cut to the police department's funding.

The City Council in 2019 endorsed a radical "Green New Deal" proposal

Last summer, the Seattle City Council backed a petition that called for a drastic "Green New Deal" proposal.

"We admire how clearly you have articulated what a just and sustainable future for Seattle looks like," the council members said of the petition that called for "a transformative Green New Deal for Seattle that will eliminate our city's climate pollution by 2030, address historical and current injustices, and create thousands of good, green, well-playing, unionized jobs."

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL ENDORSES CALLS FOR DRASTIC 'GREEN NEW DEAL'

The petition called for "free electric transit for all Seattle neighborhoods," tens of thousands of affordable housing units and a full transition from fossil fuel heating to electric heating for 160,000 homes in the city.

It also said "the Green New Deal must roll out universal access to filtered air spaces and cooling centers for the public," and demands, "local, just and carbon-free food systems."

It lost a court battle over unconstitutional trash inspections

Seattle in 2013 put in place a policy that banned residents from putting compostable items like food waste or recyclable items like cans in their garbage. It was enforced by municipal workers going through residents' trash and putting tags on their cans if they thought there were too many recyclables or compostables in the trash, according to a court document published by The Seattle Times.

People would also be fined $1 every time they were deemed to have committed such a recycling sin.

The plan eventually was blocked. Because "[t]he city could not explain how inspectors can compute the 10 percent limit without searching through a resident's garbage bags," a court ruled, "the court must conclude that the enforcement provisions, as currently written, are facially unconstitutional."

A socialist councilwoman has been warring with Amazon for years

Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, a self-declared socialist, has for years pushed a "head tax" that would levy fees against large companies like Amazon based on the number of people they employ. That led Amazon to pour about $1.5 million into an effort to oppose her reelection, which failed after she won back her seat late last year.

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"Our movement needs to organize for rent control, for a Green New Deal for working people, to make sure this council stands with working people ... Join us in the People's Budget movement and fight to tax big business," Sawant said in her victory speech.

The head tax was initially passed in 2018 before being quickly repealed due to its unpopularity. But, according to Q13 Fox, Sawant attempted to put the head tax back into law earlier this year by incorporating it in the city's emergency coronavirus relief bill.

It unanimously voted to give money to illegal immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic

The City Council, in a 9-0 vote earlier this year, asked the state to create a $100 million “relief fund” for illegal immigrants who did not qualify for federal stimulus checks, according to The Seattle Times.

“Looking out for the most vulnerable in our community is even more critical in times of crisis,” Durkan said, according to The Times. “It is all the more important to ensure we are not pushing people further into the shadows.”

The resolution was nonbinding, meaning it did not officially create such a fund, but it was yet another push by the city's liberal government to assist those in the U.S. illegally in spite of the federal government stance.

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR $100 MILLION 'RELIEF FUND' FOR ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

Durkan also slammed Trump's executive order suspending immigration to the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.

"The President’s newest executive order is him yet again scapegoating families and workers to cover up for his administration’s continued mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic," she said. "It is absolutely despicable that he would use COVID-19 as an excuse to push his xenophobic agenda."

The minimum wage is even higher than $15 per hour

Most Democratic presidential candidates in 2020 proposed more than doubling the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, but that would still not be as high as Seattle's minimum wage.

Starting this year, Seattle increased its minimum wage for companies employing over 500 workers from $16 per hour to $16.39 per hour. Smaller businesses saw their minimum wage lifted from $15 per hour to $15.75 if they do not contribute $2.25 per hour to medical benefits or the employee does not earn $2.25 per hour in tips.

Full Service Workers Alliance co-founder Simone Barron told Fox Business in December that the wage hikes are hurting business in the city.

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"There have been several restaurants in Seattle that have closed because of the [burdensome] laws that are coming down—that are hitting them—and the minimum wage is one of those," she said.

She added: "All of this is due to the minimum wage increase paired with other laws that are coming down through our city council."

Durkan, in an October tweet, said that companies' finances are not the city's first priority as she discussed potential legislation relating to Uber and Lyft drivers.

"From the Fight for $15 to so much more, we’ve always been the city that puts our workers before any company’s bottom line," she said. "No worker in Seattle should make below the minimum wage after expenses."

Fox News' Vandana Rambaran, Edmund DeMarche and Adam Shaw; and Fox Business' Frank Connor and Evie Fordham contributed to this report.