Seattle protesters declare six-block area independent from U.S.
Protesters in Seattle, Washington have camped out this week in a six-block area they are calling the "CHAZ" or Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.
The CHAZ is located outside the Seattle Police Department's now-deserted East Precinct, and the protesters took over City Hall for about an hour this week and demanded the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan. The group who marched into City Hall was led by City Council member Kshama Sawant.
The Seattle police abandoned the precinct Monday, hauling out sensitive items and boarding up the building’s windows before opening up the streets to protesters, Patch reported. The department has been sued for allegedly using violent tactics including tear gas and flash bang grenades against peaceful protesters.
Protesters have placed barricades around the CHAZ, declaring the area a "cop-free zone" that is no longer part of the United States. However, some reports indicate that the protesters have taken the law into their own hands within the CHAZ.
“We have heard anecdotally reports of citizens and businesses being asked to pay a fee to operate within this area,” Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nollette said. “This is the crime of extortion.”
Another report indicates that Seattle rapper Raz Simone has declared himself a warlord and the ruler of the area. Simone has reportedly been patrolling the CHAZ with an AK-47 and a handgun.
“We are the police of this community now,” a person on the video posted to Twitter is heard telling the alleged vandal, as Simone tries to intervene. “We are the leaders of this community now.”
In addition to problems of leadership, the CHAZ may also be lacking a food supply.
“The homeles [sic] people we invited took away all the food at the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” a protester in the CHAZ tweeted. “We need more food to keep the area operational. please if possible bring vegan meat substitutes, fruits, oats, soy products, etc. – anything to help us eat.”
The protesters demand that the Seattle Police Department and court system be abolished. They also seek reparations "for victims of police brutality," as well as a retrial of "all People of Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime."
Other demands include the creation of rent control, free college, and the hiring of "black doctors and nurses specifically to help care for black patients."