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16 Jun, 2020 22:14

Good vibes by day, wild west by night: CHAZ is an anarchist camp with a split personality (VIDEO)

Good vibes by day, wild west by night: CHAZ is an anarchist camp with a split personality (VIDEO)

The Left says it’s a peaceful community of activists and rebels. The Right says it’s an anarchic dystopia ruled by a warlord. The truth is that the experience in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone differs from day to night.

For more than a week now, a collection of Antifa types, anarchists, ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists and leftists of all stripes have occupied a six-block area around an abandoned police precinct in downtown Seattle. The ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,’ or CHAZ, is a district without police, in which the ideas of the radical Left can bloom, and in which the occupiers hope to demonstrate their vision of a cop-free and socially just community.

That’s according to the Left. The Right have painted CHAZ as a dangerous secessionist movement, and described the zone as a post-apocalyptic wasteland, where warlords rule, drug use is rife, and dissent is crushed with an iron fist.

Based on accounts from behind the barricades, they’re both right.

CHAZ by day:

The zone is barricaded off, but its borders are not closed. As such, anyone curious enough can stroll right into CHAZ during the day. Inside, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a giant block party, and many businesses within the area are functioning as normal, albeit behind storefronts daubed with “All Cops Are B**tards” and “Reparations Now!” graffiti. 

The eclectic crowd and shabby-chic aesthetic of CHAZ brings to mind Copenhagen’s long-standing Freetown Christiania commune, or the seedy disorganization of Amsterdam’s Red Light District in the 1990s. 

In his video report for RT America, local journalist Zak Buczinsky visited the zone on Monday, passing the “absolutely beautiful” mural commemorating black lives lost to police, and marvelling at the “wonderful art” now decorating Pike Street. Notably though, many cars parked in the zone have been thoroughly vandalized with spray paint. 

Clusters of tents, loud music, and impromptu rap sessions give the zone a music festival vibe. But it’s also a clearinghouse for leftist ideas, from the peaceful to the insane. At any one moment, visitors to CHAZ can find elderly black residents preaching racial tolerance, like the smiling t-shirt vendor who said he was heartened by how many protesters were of the “caucasian persuasion,” calling the scenes “dope as f**k.”

Around the corner, one can also find race-hustlers demanding literal reparations from white folks to settle centuries-old racial grievances, and online, CHAZ organizers have struggled to set up a kind of CHAZ “council,” due to the sheer number of different minorities, genders and classes they feel obliged to include.

Under clear skies or the brooding clouds more normally associated with Seattle, CHAZ by day has won over many visiting journalists, like American blogger Desiree DeLoach. The mood in CHAZ is “completely peaceful,” DeLoach told RT last week. With co-ops offering “free pizza, drinks, water and all types of snacks,” what’s not to like about the CHAZ life?

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

CHAZ by night:

When the sun sets on CHAZ, quite a different vibe emerges. One resident told the Daily Caller, a conservative news outlet, that at night, “screams of terror” echo throughout the zone. With no police around to investigate the source of these supposed screams, justice in CHAZ has been enforced by local rapper Raz Simone, who seemingly has installed himself as a de-facto ‘warlord.’

Video footage emerged over the weekend showing Raz chasing down and interrogating an accused thief, who was beaten by a crowd before slipping off into the night. More disturbingly, Raz was recorded apparently handing out rifles to a group of followers, some of whom were said to be minors.

Additionally, a local business owner was targeted by an enraged mob on Sunday night, after he caught a would-be arsonist attempting to torch his property. The man said he held the suspect and attempted to reach the police by phone, but no help came, and the crowd set about pulling down the fence of his auto store.

“The police won’t come,” the owner told a cameraman. “The fire department won’t even come. This is really bad for business. Covid was bad enough, and now this stuff basically put the icing on the cake.”

Ambulances, however, have been dispatched to CHAZ on multiple occasions, after several occupiers reportedly overdosed.

Also on rt.com Now CHAZ has guns: Seattle autonomous zone ‘warlord’ filmed handing out AR-15s to followers

Nightfall seemingly births more radical rhetoric in CHAZ too, and some occupiers clearly see themselves as vanguards of a coming revolution. “Does anybody know what happened to the people who did not get on board with the French Revolution?” one demonstrator with a megaphone asked a crowd on Sunday night. “Chopped!” came the response, a reference both to the guillotine executions that followed the French Revolution, and to the decision by some protesters to rename CHAZ the ‘Capitol Hill Organized Protest,’ or CHOP.

“That is the message we need to send,” the revolutionary preacher added. “We are serious. This is not a joke.”

If CHAZ is allowed to function as a non-stop leftist festival by day, it’s because nobody has stepped in to stop the party. Likewise, the zone has been allowed to degenerate into anarchy at night because nobody has stepped in to restore order. The Seattle Police Department has given the area a wide berth, and Mayor Jenny Durkan has denied any reports of crime within the zone’s borders. Describing the CHAZ experiment as a “summer of love,” Durkan rebuffed President Donald Trump’s demands that the blocks be cleared out.

Whether residents would actually be willing to dig in and defend their zone against an actual police incursion remains a hypothetical question, and one that may go unanswered for some time. When Trump called on Durkan to “end this Seattle takeover,” she scolded the president for being “so afraid of democracy.” Likewise, Washington Governor Jay Inslee has told Trump to stay out of his state’s business.

Progressive utopia, social justice hellscape, or both, the CHAZ experiment is at present free to play out. However, Despite Durkan and Inslee’s reluctance to act, Trump said on Monday that he was consulting with Attorney General William Barr to “solve the problem quickly.”

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