by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Media outlets left and right have turned their spotlight to an emerging “nation” in one Seattle neighborhood: the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), a six-block occupied space that a group of Antifa, anarchists, and progressive community activists took by force. But a lot of them are getting key details wrong in their coverage.
After several nights of tense, violent protests in the area around the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building, Mayor Jenny Durkan made the controversial decision to pull the barricades and officers defending the precinct. After hastily removing important documents, expensive equipment, and personal items, the building was boarded up, fenced off, and abandoned completely. Then the activists took over.
The result is CHAZ, which has met with very different reactions from different outlets. Some on the right believe the moment you step foot into the autonomous zone, you’ll be assaulted. President Donald Trump recently tweeted that CHAZ is run by “terrorists” intent on burning down the city. On the left, some claim it’s a utopian commune advancing the cause of social justice. …
… The truth is somewhere in-between. CHAZ has no singular leader, which explains why it has already changed considerably since its occupation just days ago. At times, it’s run by a who’s who of Seattle community activists. When firebrand socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant is on the scene, she tries to take over. Other times, seemingly random people show up and start to make speeches and proclamations.
While it’s not dangerous to enter, it’s not quite peaceful either. Security, some armed, are stationed at borders fortified with metal and plastic traffic barricades. There’s only one entrance that allows drivers, but you must first check in with CHAZ security. One protester said they monitor who comes in and out, looking for white supremacists they think may show up to start trouble.