Anything In Seattle Called ‘CHAZ’ Probably Not As Dangerous As Fox News, Trump Claim

Culture Wars

During the George Floyd protests in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, the police responded with tear gas, OC grenades, and blast balls. This didn't effectively keep the peace, and eventually the cops said “screw it" and abandoned their East Precinct and let the protesters police themselves. However, they aren't beating each other up with batons or spraying themselves with pepper spray, so their own form of law enforcement is very different.

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) or the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) covers six city blocks and Cal Anderson Park. The protesters demand the abolition of the police --- a reasonable response to people who tear gas you -- and funding of community health. There's also a call for rent control and a reversal of the gentrification that made the area a playground for well-off hipsters. There are homemade signs in the zone announcing that “You are now entering free Cap Hill."

The situation is far less tense and violent now that the police have gone. What a shock. But the cops blinking and the protesters occupying the area has caused conservatives, including our perfectly sane and rational president, to freak out.




Seattle is slightly larger than six blocks in Capitol Hill. Trump also suggested in May that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer “give a little" and “make a deal" with the armed assholes who stormed the Capitol to protest her lockdown orders. Now he wants Washington Governor Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to bust hippie heads, and he's threatened to send in troops to “take back" Seattle from ... Seattleites.

Inside Seattle's 'Autonomous Zone'. No police allowed. www.youtube.com

Durkan explained that it would be "unconstitutional and illegal to send military to Seattle." Of course, “unconstitutional and illegal" is Trump's jam. She should've said it was a minor inconvenience like wearing a mask in public to avoid spreading COVID-19. Inslee also described reality to Trump and mocked his baby brain.

From the Seattle Times:

"I spoke with [Mayor Jenny Durkan] and her team about the situation on Capitol Hill," Inslee tweeted. "Although unpermitted, and we should remember we are still in a pandemic, the area is largely peaceful. Peaceful protests are fundamentally American, and I am hopeful there will be a peaceful resolution."

"What we will not allow," Inslee continued, "are threats of military violence against Washingtonians coming from the White House. The U.S. military serves to protect Americans, not the fragility of an insecure president."

Trump spent his 74th birthday in “seclusion" because no one likes him. He was also probably training for his next rematch with a flight of stairs. He was still amped up over CHAZ or CHOP thanks to Fox News, which has out propaganda-ed itself. Tucker Carlson compared Seattle protesters to conquistadors, who “planted a flag and stole that land." If that were accurate, you'd think he'd dig them. He also claimed CHAZ was some new, lawless nation. Why the fuck is he on TV?

The Fox News site published digitally altered photos about CHAZ, in a "clear violation of ethical standards for news organizations," but Fox News isn't a news organization and has no immediately evident ethical standards. One photo featured an armed man in front of a smashed retail storefront, which was a combination of multiple images from multiple photographers. Friday, Fox's site ran a photo of a city in flames above the headline “CRAZY TOWN: Seattle helpless as armed guards patrol anarchists' autonomous zones, shake down businesses: cops." Again, this isn't the entire city, and the photo wasn't even from Seattle but St. Paul, Minnesota. It's a wonder they didn't include footage of Bane seizing Gotham from The Dark Knight Rises.

Bane. Gotham is yours www.youtube.com

When The Seattle Times pressed Fox News, the network said it “deeply regretted" the deliberate errors. The reality is that CHAZ isn't that scary. The protests are mostly peaceful. Yes, armed men have appeared in the zone, but conservatives can thank the Second Amendment for that. They normally support pro-gun demonstrations in public and have no problem with idiots taking assault rifles with them on their coffee runs. But if they spot anyone armed who might disagree with them, they soil their pants and suddenly remember guns are dangerous.

Durkan said as recently as Thursday that CHAZ was "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."

In Sunday's edition of USA Today, the protest area was described as a "mini-Burning Man festival." If that's the worst removing the police from a community can do, I'll take it.

[The Stranger / Seattle Times]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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