CHOP's choreographed ‘revolution’ has ended in failure, but success was never the plan
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan gave the order earlier this week to shut down CHOP – formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ – sending in police on Wednesday morning to arrest the stragglers. The unusual social experiment – it’s not every day a city’s government lets a group of anarchists, some heavily armed, take over a six-block area that includes a police precinct – had been marred by escalating violence in recent weeks, though it seemed designed to exacerbate societal fault lines from the start.Also on rt.com Now it’s personal: Seattle mayor moves to dismantle CHOP after protesters show up AT HER HOUSE
CHOP widened the political divide from both “sides,” providing endless fodder for conservative commentators’ “woke” jokes (who can forget the long-haired man haranguing his “fellow white people” to fork over $10 to the next black person they saw?), fearmongering over alleged threats to “take over” larger sections of Seattle (to say nothing of the beheadings implied in renaming the zone to CHOP), and gleeful I-told-you-so’s over everything from reported food shortages to outbreaks of violence.
Meanwhile, the Zone’s inhabitants were openly dangled by liberal media as “bait” in front of President Donald Trump, taunting him in the hope he’d send in the National Guard and serve up the footage of American soldiers stomping “peaceful” protesters that they desperately wanted for the next installment of the ‘Orange Man Bad’ reality show.
Ironically, it was Durkan who ultimately ordered the recapture of the six blocks she’d turned over to the protesters in the first place nearly a month ago. Durkan soured on the encampment she’d initially called a “summer of love” after socialist city councilwoman Kshama Sawant led protesters literally to her doorstep over the weekend, where they apparently left their mark in the form of obscene graffiti. But it was on Durkan’s orders that the cops had abandoned the East Precinct, whose “conquest” was framed as the crowning achievement of the CHOP occupiers. CHOP, it seemed, had fulfilled its goals.
The mix of Antifa and Black Lives Matter demonstrators hadn’t even spent a week in their downtown utopia before they released a list of mostly laudable demands, fatally spiked with unworkable and downright offensive “solutions” that promoted a return to racial segregation under the guise of progressivism. For most of CHOP’s inhabitants, the zone seemed to be an exercise in live-action role-playing, with no danger of actually having to follow through with their demands or run a sustainable society outside the capitalist system.Also on rt.com End imprisonment, reintroduce segregation, ban police: Seattle revolutionaries’ cartoonish ‘demands’ show they’re not serious
When reality finally intruded in the form of multiple shootings that left two young black men dead, CHOP became an ideal bedtime story to warn on-the-fence liberals thinking of backing the “defund the police” movement away from the notion that a society without law enforcement was possible. Predators do not become good citizens just because the threat of incarceration is removed. If anything, abolishing the police emboldens those warped human beings who delight in preying on the weak. While one can argue that much low-level crime – burglary, drug-dealing, fraud, and so on – has its roots in economic desperation, serious offenses like murder and rape cannot be engineered out of society by dissolving police forces and reallocating the money to social programs.
Focusing the energy of the protest movement spawned by George Floyd’s killing on dismantling the police all but guarantees that desperately needed reforms will never come. While only seven percent of Americans surveyed last month thought the country’s policing system needed no changes, the notion of defunding the police was also profoundly unpopular, supported by just 27 percent of respondents. Accountability measures – assigning independent prosecutors to cases in which civilians are killed by police, or ending the “qualified immunity” protection that shields bad cops against misconduct lawsuits – enjoyed broad support, however.
CHOP will no doubt be held up in the coming months as “proof” that alternative social structures don’t work – or a dramatic tale of a collapsed dream of a new society – as if its leaders had really intended to make a permanent community or lead a real revolution. Sincere revolutionaries should recognize it for what it was – a Hollywood-grade production – and get back to work transforming society.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.