On the day he buried his 19-year-old son, who was gunned down in Seattle’s lawless ‘CHOP’ zone, Horace Lorenzo Anderson Sr. got a phone call from President Trump, who had been moved by his heart-wrenching appearance the night before on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity.”
Anderson’s son, Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr., was killed in the early hours of June 20, when shots rang out near the border of the six-block zone the city had given up for three chaotic weeks. In the emotional interview with Sean Hannity, a tearful Anderson said he hadn’t been able to get answers from the city about his son’s death, and disclosed that he had not even been contacted by Mayor Jenny Durkan.
But, the mayor, a Democrat, did reach out to Anderson later Wednesday, and a call from Trump followed later.
“We just talked to the president of the United States,” Anderson’s friend and family spokesman Andre Taylor, who took part in Wednesday’s interview, told Fox News. “How are you going to top that?”
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Taylor said Trump told Anderson he saw his interview with Hannity Wednesday night and was moved by the grieving father’s grace in the face of tragedy. In what Taylor said was a seven-minute call, Trump offered his condolences and support.
“He said he watched ‘Hannity’ last night, and told Horace, ‘Your son is looking down on you and watching over you,’” Taylor recounted. “He was incredibly gracious, and it gave Horace some extra help as he buried his son.”
In the interview, Anderson described his son as good-hearted but easily influenced. He said he took some solace in knowing that he often told the boy, who he took full custody of at age 2, that he loved him. But, when he described the pain of learning through the grapevine that his son was dead, he broke down, as Taylor comforted him.
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“The only way I found out was just two of his friends, just two friends that just happened to be up there, and they came and told me,” he said. “They weren’t even from Seattle. Now, mind you, I haven’t heard -- the police department, they never came.”
Compounding the father’s grief were reports that first responders who came to the CHOP zone to transport the shooting victims to the hospital encountered an angry mob that denied them entry. The pair were taken to Harborview Medical Center by self-described “CHOP medics,” and Anderson’s son was pronounced dead on arrival.
“My son needed help, and I don’t feel like they helped my son," Anderson said. “I feel like he doesn’t -- without this, he would just be nobody. He’s just -- it doesn't matter, he’s just another guy. Just another child, just swept up under the rug, and that’s it and forgotten about.”
His son’s death has left him heartbroken, Anderson told a visibly moved Hannity.
“I wake up in the morning... I look for my son in the morning,” he said. “He’s not there no more. You know what I’m saying? It’s like I go in there, I’m kissing a picture. He’s not there.”
Thursday’s phone call from Trump helped Anderson get through a day that no parent should ever face. Knowing that so many people, including the commander-in-chief, shared in his grief provided him some measure of peace and strength, Taylor said.
“It blew Horace’s mind,” he added.
The infamous CHOP zone in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood was forcefully cleared out Wednesday after the city’s leadership finally acted following two deadly shootings and weeks of scrutiny that a city would cede several blocks to protesters and not allow first responders to enter.
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Elected leaders contended the protest was largely peaceful until reports of gun violence and videos of demonstrators threatening journalists and other visitors to the area surfaced online.
Since the zone was established, there have been four shootings, two of which were deadly -- 19-year-old Horace Lorenzo Anderson Jr. and a 16-year-old who died in a separate incident.
Many businesses and people living within the occupied area also complained of violence and threats from demonstrators. Several businesses, including an auto repair shop, a tattoo parlor and a property-management company, filed lawsuits against the city Wednesday. The complaint alleged that city officials were complicit in letting the self-described anarchists occupy public streets that made them feel unsafe.
As crews cleared out the area this week, Seattle police retook a police station that officers had abandoned following clashes between law enforcement and protesters.
Many Republicans, including Trump, have excoriated local leaders amid reports of chaos and lawlessness within CHOP. Earlier this month, Trump vowed to not have a repeat of Seattle in Washington, D.C., as protests raged near the White House.
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In a June 18 tweet, he called CHOP “the latest example of Liberal (Democrat) cities caving to lawlessness.”
“We’re not talking about some little place, we’re talking about Seattle,” Trump said during a June 20 rally in Tulsa, Okla., while criticizing Democrats in Seattle and Washington state. He said he had an offer to Seattle officials that “any time you want, we’ll come in” and straighten out the issues in Seattle “in an hour or less.”