Hot Air

Why the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone gave itself a new name (Update: Uber driver says he had guns pointed at him)

When police retreated from the east precinct in Seattle last week, protesters set up barriers in the streets and announced it was now the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ). But over the weekend the organizers decided to change the name from CHAZ to Capitol Hill Organized Protest or CHOP. The new name hasn’t been adopted by everyone yet but there’s a specific reason the protesters wanted the word autonomous to be dropped. They realized that if they’re really autonomous, they can’t make demands on the government.

Roughly 10 to 15 informal leaders of the protest in Capitol Hill, including one protestor named Maurice Cola, met on June 13 to create a new name for the area: Capitol Hill Organized Protest or CHOP…

Cola said naming the space “CHAZ” implies it is no longer a part of the U.S. That’s problematic, Cola argued, as he fears those in government may defend the use of greater force to remove protestors by calling them occupiers or antifa. Cola also said that the name poses potential problems in terms of reparations.

“At the end of the day it can’t be an autonomous zone if we’re still demanding things from the government, because that would mean we’re seceding from their establishment entirely,” Cola said. “None of us have denounced our American citizenship and we demand that they pay the fee.”

So they want it clear that they are not seceding because they want stuff. And as I pointed out previously, they want a lot of stuff. The published list of demands not only includes disbanding the police department and the courts, there’s also a list of economic demands starting with rent control.

  1. We demand the de-gentrification of Seattle, starting with rent control.
  2. We demand the restoration of city funding for arts and culture to re-establish the once-rich local cultural identity of Seattle.
  3. We demand free college for the people of the state of Washington, due to the overwhelming effect that education has on economic success, and the correlated overwhelming impact of poverty on people of color, as a form of reparations for the treatment of Black people in this state and country.

They don’t want autonomy because that would mean they’d be responsible for delivering something. Instead they want to make demands and have someone else pay for everything. I’m betting a high percentage of CHAZ/CHOP residents are Bernie Sanders supporters.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, police are still considering how to re-enter the east precinct without stirring up the protesters. At least one Seattle police officer has had enough. Here’s an email he sent to Jason Rantz last week:

I’ve been punched, spit on, hit with rocks, a few glass bottles, and blown up twice in the last 10 days (IED thrown at me by rioters that tore the leather on my Danner boots).

I’ve also hit and/or sprayed more people in that time than in the previous [several years] of my career. The damage done to community trust will take a decade to un-[expletive] (technical term).

I love the city that I was born in, but I’m done. I was used as cannon fodder, then blamed for inciting the violence. I’ve visited fellow officers in the hospital and we have 45 out on injuries, but the narrative is the crowds were non-violent and cops are the problem.

I was there. Every day but one. On the front. That’s not how it was.

It’ll take a few months, but I’m leaving SPD and I’m completely devastated by that. We’ve done more in this city to reform than anywhere else in the country and done it without complaint. We are, or at least were, one of the most reformed, professional departments in the history of this country but I’m done.

Seattle’s police chief initially seemed to get why her officers were so upset. Last week she released a video saying she was angry about the decision to leave the precinct and that it wasn’t her decision. But yesterday during an appearance on Face the Nation she seemed to be singing a different tune.

Best attended a Black Lives Matter march in the area and recalled witnessing many demonstrators who carried signs calling for an end to police brutality and changes to qualified immunity.

“I know standing there watching and listening that we’re going to change in policing. We have to. It has to be a movement that involves everybody,” she said.

I guess we’ll see how much the police department in Seattle gets defunded and how many cops decide it’s time to call it a day before that happens. In the meantime, the CHAZ/CHOP fantasy utopia where everything is free continues. How much longer can this go on?

Update: This Uber driver claims two guards pulled guns on him when he pulled up to CHAZ/CHOP for a fare.

The end of the same story from a different angle where you can see the driver talking.

Will this guy be on CNN anytime soon?

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