Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., is co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but when asked whether the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone in her Seattle district helped or harmed her progressive cause, she did not give a clear response.
Jayapal explained why she thinks CHOP happened and spoke in broad strokes about the right to protest during a wide-ranging conversation with The Washington Post’s Robert Costa on Tuesday. She opted not to weigh in directly on the question of whether it ultimately damaged the progressive cause.
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“Oh listen, I am a full believer in the right to protest and dissent and Seattle has a long history of that,” Jayapal said, citing past protests and occupations of buildings in the area and noting that, “It’s been a very effective tactic.”
Jayapal went on to float her theory for why protestors took over the location surrounding a police precinct that officers abandoned amid clashes between law enforcement and those demonstrating after George Floyd’s death.
“I think that the anger that was a part of that really stemmed from the militaristic response that our police force had,” Jayapal said, blaming officers for how they responded to protesters. She stated that she tried to put an end to the strict government response to the protesters by calling on the mayor to end curfews and take away the National Guard, and by opposing the use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
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“That’s what I think started a lot of what ended up happening,” she said, “but I believe that protest and dissent is important, and I think that we have to respect the Constitution for those protesters and I think that, you know, what they are pushing for is very, very important.”
Earlier in the conversation, which was titled, “Race in America,” Jayapal responded to incidents of fatal police incidents by making a broad generalization about officers.
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“Law enforcement as a whole has a culture of brutality that you cannot deny if you look at all of these incidents,” she claimed, stating that “most of the protesters are calling for a complete transformation of policing.”
Jayapal said that governments should “shift significant sums of money from police” and place it in other community-based programs.