The Seattle “Autonomous Zone” is a six-block area of the State of Washington city that includes the now abandoned east police precinct. It’s called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” or the CHAZ for short.
Protesters took over the area after the police left the precinct and declared it “autonomous.” Blockades identify the CHAZ’s borders. A sign reads, “You are now leaving the USA.” Videos provide a sense of what it’s like inside the CHAZ. You can see videos of the autonomous zone throughout this article.
Julio Rossas, a reporter with Town Hall, wrote on Twitter, “Occupiers forced this guy out who was live-streaming inside the zone. The crowd was calling him a white supremacist, though the man being pushed out says he’s simply an anti-abortion advocate. The crowd chanted, ‘Who don’t matter? This motherf*cker!'” See that video. Be aware the language in it is graphic.
He also wrote, “Tensions are high in the CHAZ after some officers came in to enter the East Precinct. Some in the crowd wanted to make sure nothing happened to the officers. Others wanted to prevent the officers from entering the zone. Arguments are breaking out amongst the crowd.”
A CNN reporter said that people are camping out, playing music, and watching movies.
“Whose streets? Our streets,” people chanted in one video.
Some of the videos show armed people in the CHAZ.
Some of the videos contain very graphic language.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Mayor Compared the CHAZ to a Block Party
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told CNN that “we have four blocks in Seattle that is more like a block party atmosphere. It’s not an armed takeover. It’s not a military junta. We will make sure that we will restore this but we have block parties and the like in this part of Seattle all the time… there is no threat right now to the public.”
She criticized President Donald Trump, who wrote on Twitter, “Radical Left Governor @JayInslee and the Mayor of Seattle are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before. Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stopped IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!”
Some tweets with videos said police officers were kicked out of the CHAZ.
One Twitter user wrote, “Due to COVID-19 we respectfully decline the @SeattlePDs request for their precinct back. The People will move forward with their plans to convert the space into a Mutual Aid HQ for COVID.”
The police chief, Carmen Best, recorded a video with an update about the East Precinct. “We are all going through one of the toughest times ever in the history of the Seattle Police Department,” she said.
The decision to board up the precinct, our precinct, our home, the first precinct I worked in, was something I have been holding off. You should know, leaving the precinct was not my decision. We fought for days to protect it. I asked you to stand on that line day in and day out, to be pelted with projectiles, to be screamed at, threatened, and in some cases, hurt,” she said.
“Then to have a chancg of course nearly two weeks in. It seems like an insult to you and our community. Ultimately, the city had other plans for the building and relented to severe public pressure. I’m angry how this all came about…We had solid information to believe anti government groups would destroy the precinct once we left, whether through vandalism or arson.”
The chief continued:
As you might have heard, the Seattle Fire Department was nearby to protect the precinct and the entire residential block from a real risk of a large-scale fire. This week there have been demonstrations and what I understand were threats against a news reporter on Capitol Hill. There was vandalism to our city streets and our building. But today the precinct remains standing. No officers were hurt. No force was used. We have heard that there are armed people patrolling the streets… of course that is very concerning especially because we don’t know who these people are. We’ve also received reports that these armed people may be demanding payment from business owners in exchange for some of that protection. We’ve also heard that they be demanding to see identification from people who live in the area. This is not legal. We ask anyone who may be experiencing this to come forward and file a police report so we can investigate these crimes.
She said she believes most people in Seattle support the police.