Seattle is the home of Amazon’s corporate headquarters, employing more than 80,000 people. It’s also one of the nation’s epicenters of crime, rioting, and looting that erupted in 2020 which remains concerns today.
The online sales behemoth that embraces gun control and defunding police is now witnessing the effects of those policies. Amazon is moving its employees out of one of its downtown corporate buildings over concerns of rising crime.
“Given recent incidents…, we’re providing employees currently at that location with alternative office space elsewhere,” an Amazon spokesperson recently told media. “We are hopeful that conditions will improve and that we will be able to bring employees back to this location when it is safe to do so.”
To understand how the neighborhood became so violent as to force the company to relocate their employees to safer confines, Amazon may want to look in the mirror.
Gun Control Donations
Amazon has the largest employment footprint in Seattle, nearly double that of locally-based Starbucks, and the company’s employees are active in campaign giving. This includes donating to gun control groups and elected officials who support restricting the Second Amendment in Washington
Locally, the online delivery giant was the single largest source of donations to former Democratic Seattle Mayor Jenny “Summer of Love” Durkan. All told, employees donated more than $350,000 to a group supporting her mayoral campaign. Durkan, of course, supported defunding police and gun control. She cheered the city council’s approval of her budget that slashed nearly $20 million from the police budget.
“I applaud the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget…,” the mayor said after the council approved her budget by an 8-1 vote.
The one “No” vote wasn’t in protest of cutting police budgets though. It was a vote by Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, who didn’t think the cuts went far enough. She wanted 50 percent of the budget eliminated.
According to donation analysis, contributions from Amazon employees helped Councilmember Sawant overcome a recall election effort to remain in office.
Mayor Durkan turned down running for re-election, an unsurprising move when the city’s crime spiraling out of control. Current Democratic Mayor Bruce Harrell ran and won election on a message of law and order and increasing police.
“Part of that plan requires more officers. The depleted staffing we see today does not allow us to react to emergencies and crime with the response times our residents deserve,” Mayor Harrell said. Online searches for Amazon contributions for Harrell’s campaign come up empty.
Summer of CHAZ
Washington State is already home to some of the nation’s strongest gun control policies and Seattle has even stricter local ordinances. None of that seemed to matter in the summer of 2020, though. Seattle achieved national recognition as an infamous crime hotspot because of CHAZ, or the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Police and first responders were prohibited from entering the zone and crime was rampant, including a number of murders.
Notably, video surfaced of a criminal named “Raz” handing out semiautomatic rifles from the trunk of his car. The recipient in one case was 18 years old. The incident was a blatant violation of Seattle’s safe storage laws, laws prohibiting open carrying a firearm for the purpose of intimidation, ignoring the state’s universal background check requirement, as well as the prohibition of anyone under the age of 21 from possessing a gun.
At that time, little was done by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee or Mayor Durkan to put a stop to CHAZ. Now Gov. Inslee is doubling down…by signing a law banning magazines with a carrying capacity greater than 10 rounds.
He and Washington’s politicians refuse to recognize the problem is crime, not those who lawfully own firearms. Limiting their ability to protect themselves doesn’t reduce crime.
A Permanent Move?
Amazon’s move to a safer, friendlier neighborhood could be a permanent one if the city isn’t able to put an end to the crime surge downtown. When asked by media about the employee relocation, Amazon didn’t respond.
Amazon isn’t alone in their growing frustration of violence, crime, and relying on a police force that has been reduced by anti-gun city councils and mayors.
In the last two years, Washingtonians have run more National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications than they did in the two years before the violence spiked. NSSF’s Adjusted NICS totals representing background checks for firearm transfers in 2018 and 2019 were 448,911 and 432,221 respectively, compared to 2020 and 2021, when 597,342 and 526, 284 were processed.
Washingtonians are taking responsibility for their own safety, even as anti-gun politicians sold them out. Amazon’s move out of Seattle’s increasingly dangerous downtown neighborhood could be seen as a correction to their investment. The politicians – and policies – Amazon embraced are clearly bad for business.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.