There is a bill in the Washington Legislature, SB 5009, which would make it a felony to demonstrate if it causes economic harm to local businesses. I agree violence is unacceptable, but demonstrating peacefully is a right of every American.
I am the owner of four Portage Bay Cafes in Seattle. Over the course of 20 years, I have had demonstrations, marches and protests outside my restaurants. They were inconvenient for sure, but I defend the right to hold them.
These demonstrations and gatherings never hurt me financially. What has hurt me are the Seattle Seahawks when they play during weekend brunch and everybody stays away, or the Seattle Marathon when all the streets are closed off around our South Lake Union location and customers can’t get there.
Perhaps under this proposed new law I can have Seahawks owner Paul Allen handcuffed and frogmarched from his suite at Century Link to the King County Jail. Or I could have those marathoners scooped up and taken to jail.
So before our legislators make this law a reality, let’s all take a big breath and remember living in this great, wonderful democracy is sometimes hard.
John Gunnar, Seattle