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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

New Laws In Washington: Rioting Gets Name Change, Seahawks Fandom Licensed

Isabel Esterman
November 1999 photo of WTO protests in Seattle.

After January 1, rioting will still be a crime in Washington. But it will get a new name. And Seahawks fans will have a new way to show their loyalty to the team.

Seattle is no stranger to riots. Remember WTO?

If there’s a next time people riot anywhere in Washington, the formal charge will be “criminal mischief.” The argument for this change is that most of the time when someone’s charged with rioting it’s in lieu of some other charge, not because they were engaged in mayhem in the streets.

Thus, the argument goes, “criminal mischief” better describes the actual crime.

Not everyone agrees. “A riot by any other name will still smell like tear gas,” said citizen activist Arthur West earlier this year. He was testifying against the name change.

Hopefully Seahawks fans never riot. But starting January 2 they’ll have a new way show their team appreciation. A law takes effect that allows the Washington Department of Licensing to issue special Seahawks license plates.

Soccer fans don’t despair: a new Sounders FC license plate will also be available.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."