Emails discovered in a recent public disclosure request filed by a Washington State attorney claim that Governor Jay Inslee ordered the closure of freeways so that protesters could demonstrate in mass gatherings. This was a violation of his own "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" orders.
D. Angus Lee released the emails on Wednesday. In one internal email from the Vancouver, Washington Police Department (VPD), Tim Martin wrote "The freeway/bridge is being given to them by order of the Governor, and WSP has been told to divert traffic from I-5 onto SR-500."
Lee stated that "the email from Martin was dated a day before the BLM march, which evidences a clear intent by Governor Inslee to secretly subvert his own COVID restrictions and to facilitate that massive BLM gathering during the peak of the COVID lockdown restrictions."
The email from VPD even discusses the new normal of rioters at protests even back in June "…simply monitor on the outer perimeter for Antifa issues, just like normal." This while religious services were forbidden, schools were closed and businesses were shuttered under threat of criminal prosecution.
In an email from Washington State Trooper Jason Linn, on June 19, Linn wrote that he had received a complaint from a member of the public about the blockage of the bridge, and that Linn had told the caller that "we were under the order of the Governor."
Lee also discovered a written directive from Washington State Patrol (WSP) which showed that the WSP planned to follow Governor Inslee's orders to 'give' the I-5 Bridge to BLM on June 19.
The 15 page directive written by WSP Lieutenant Rob Brusseau, and published inside the WSP a day before the June 19 BLM march, stated that the WSP and Washington Department of Transportation planned to "close the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 at State Route 14 in response to a planned protest."
According the plan, the WSP formally planned to "provide traffic control services in support of the protest." While schools, churches, synagogues mosques and businesses in the area were closed due to limitations on gathering imposed by Governor Inslee, the WSP, under orders from Governor Inslee, facilitated the massive BLM gathering. The governor encouraged Washingtonians to report violators of the orders to the state to what has been nicknamed "Inslee's Snitch List."
A long list of WSP high ranking officials were involved in the plan to close the bridge to facilitate the BLM march.
On the day of the protest, hundreds of demonstrators marched south from Esther Short Park in Vancouver onto the southbound side of the interstate by way of the Washington Street on-ramp. The crowd was accompanied by three civilian vehicles behind as a barricade. WSP and WSDOT closed the freeway with signage and patrol vehicles north of the location.
Following the mass gathering, Inslee froze his reopening plan due to an increase in confirmed cases of COVID 19 in the area. Yet the governor continued to claim that the protests were not increasing the spread of COVID 19. Clark County continues to suffer severe restrictions from Inslee's Lock Down Proclamations.
Lee, a Vancouver Criminal defense and civil rights attorney who also represents Joey Gibson one of the leaders of the Patriot Prayer Group, filed a lawsuit against the WSP for what he alleges was the facilitation of a mass gathering on June 19, during a Black Lives Matter protest that shutdown the freeways.
The suit claims that by facilitating the closure of the federal freeway, WSP facilitated a mass gathering in violation of Inslee's proclamation to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the suit, Lee seeks a court injunction against WSP to prevent the agency from duplicating any similar action in the future.
Lee said in a release that "…it is abundantly clear that Governor Inslee believes that the First Amendment right to assemble only applies to protests he supports, and not prayer or religious worship. He is wrong legally, ethically, and morally. Governor Inslee has locked down Clark County, and many other counties, in phase 2 of Inslee's unconstitutional lockdown plan. He claims to be doing this because of the number of COVID infections in Clark County, but he is the one who closed the freeway and an interstate bridge to help make that massive gathering happen. He simply does not care about the impact his orders are having on local churches, small businesses, and families."
Inslee supported BLM protests, but condemned anti lockdown demonstrations. In April following a Back to Work rally in Olympia the state capital, Inslee issued a statement: "These are difficult and frustrating times. I understand the urgency of this crisis. However, this is not the time to halt the progress we have made. I encourage everyone in our state to stay home, stay healthy and, if you need to go out, practice adequate physical distancing… I support free speech. But crowd counts or speeches won't determine our course. This isn't about politics. It can only be about doing what is best for the health of all Washingtonians."
Yet in May when the protests and riots began in the state in the wake of the Death of George Floyd, Inslee said: "I fully support the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. I applaud every Washingtonian standing for what they believe in, but we must do so in a way that allows space for these important and necessary discussions, not in a way that inspires fear." He even seemed to support the rioters at points while condemning destruction at others:
Mike Faulk Deputy Communications Director/Press Secretary for Governor Inslee told The Post Millennial when asked about the emails that "The governor made no such order. The claim is false."
During the same time period, WSP was tasked with shutting down the I-5 freeway in the middle downtown Seattle so that occupiers from CHOP could march across it every night blocking traffic. This led to the death of one demonstrator and the severe injury of another. According to the Seattle Times, following the tragedy, "A spokesperson for Gov. Jay Inslee said Saturday afternoon that he '…continues to support the constitutionally protected right to protest and for those who do it to be safe from harm.'" Inslee's office did not immediately respond to the Times with comment on WSP's change in strategy following the accident.
Lee's statement on the lawsuit concludes by saying that "…we believe that no matter how noble the cause of any gathering may be, it is simply not up to the WSP to recklessly put the public health of the community at risk by actively facilitating a mass gathering in violation of State law."