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People ‘are just enjoying themselves’: Get insight into life in Seattle's ‘autonomous zone’ (VIDEO)

People ‘are just enjoying themselves’: Get insight into life in Seattle's ‘autonomous zone’ (VIDEO)
‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’, also known as CHAZ, has grabbed the attention of people in the US and beyond ever since it was established earlier this week. RT’s Caleb Maupin got a sneak peek into what happens down there.

Established around an abandoned police precinct on June 8, a six-block area of downtown Seattle has since evolved into a sort of commune controlled by anti-police brutality protesters. But how are the Seattle would-be revolutionaries faring in their police-free social experiment?

“Mood here is completely peaceful,” Desiree DeLoach, an American travel blogger and anti-capitalist, who found herself inside the ‘autonomous zone’ told RT’s Caleb Maupin. A video shot by DeLoach shows crowds of people casually walking around a street junction turned into an improvised central meeting place by the CHAZ inhabitants.

“People are grilling some food and over here we also have free pizza, drinks, water and all types of snacks. People are handing out bags with masks and hand sanitizers. Literally everything you can think of.”

Several large tents set up at the street junction can indeed be seen filled with bottled water, drinks, food and all sorts of other stuff that, according to DeLoach, is handed out free of charge to anyone coming to the place. The protesters have apparently managed to overcome food shortages reported at the time when the “zone” was just created.

At one of the corners, a large black banner surrounded by flowers and candles can be seen. “Over here, we have a memorial set up in the memory of all the people we have lost during the George Floyd rebellion as they are calling it. There is like a constant 24-hour vigil. People can light candles and take a moment of silence for everyone we have lost during the rebellion and at the hands of the police,” DeLoach said. The banner hanging over the place features a total of 15 names and a call on the protesters to mourn the dead and “fight like hell” for those who still live.

Also on rt.com Seattle cops banned from using tear gas & stun grenades amid ‘anarchist takeover’ endorsed by mayor

It is, however, unclear what exactly the CHAZ inhabitants plan to do. According to DeLoach, people are simply “intent on staying for as long as possible” but have few ideas about what to do with their newly-found freedom.

DeLoach said protesters plan to meet on Sunday to “discuss long-term plans.” She did not mention any “official” list of demands or goals but said that “people are calling for defunding of police nationwide.” The blogger explained that the protesters are aware of the recent decision by the Minneapolis council to “disband” a local police unit and now want something similar to happen at least in Seattle.

“For now, [the protesters] are just enjoying themselves and are holding various discussions with others,” she said. The CHAZ inhabitants have certainly found quite a few ways to entertain themselves.

A video taken by a local journalist, Julio Rosas, showed them making a community garden in a local park. Another video demonstrated several dozen people playing dodgeball at a tennis court near the “zone.” The game soon spiraled into a clash between the players, though. CHAZ has also seen plenty of discussions on “what to do next” and how to deal with police should the officers attempt to reclaim the territory.

According to DeLoach, inhabitants seek to persuade other people visiting the place that a society can effectively exist without the police and the money spent on law enforcement could be more effectively used on education, medicine and social assistance. “There is no need for the police. We can police ourselves and that is one of the biggest concepts of this autonomous zone,” DeLoach said.

In fact, the zone quickly got itself a sort of police substitute – a self-styled local ‘warlord’ – rapper Raz Simone, who tried to enforce his vision of law and order on the CHAZ inhabitants. The man usurped policing functions from the cops in a territory controlled by the protesters only to be promptly accused of homophobia over decade-old tweets.

The “peaceful mood” of the protesters has also been reportedly disturbed by a machete-wielding man, who roamed around CHAZ for some time. According to DeLoach, the police did not entirely give up on the place either and just took their time to regroup. Now, some protesters are concerned with the prospect of law enforcement officers clearing the zone out and “forcefully evicting everyone” under some pretext.

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The establishment of the “autonomous zone” has provoked mixed reactions from the US establishment as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city could very well “have a summer of love” while President Donald Trump branded it “anarchist takeover” and threatened Seattle with intervention.

CHAZ has also inspired some protesters in other American cities to try and establish “autonomous zones” of their own but none have succeeded in this endeavor so far.

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