Thanks to all the current demonstrations that have been happening because Black Lives Matter, a new protest society has sprung up in Seattle, Washington. It’s in a 6 block area of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which has been ground zero for the most violent of the police responses to the protesters. For many nights, the streets were a fog of tear gas and flash bangs rang in the resident’s ears. Police cruisers were set alight, and looters were destroying area businesses.
Finally, the police boarded up and abandoned their East Precinct building, and closed the area off to traffic, with the exception of first responders. The building’s sign has since been altered. It now reads, “Seattle People Department East Precinct”.
Currently, volunteers are giving out free food, and there are first aid stations set up on many of the corners. People are camping out in tents. It is a free speech and police free zone. They even showed the movie “13th” on a bed sheet in an intersection, and 200 people peacefully attended. Children have decorated the streets with chalk. The area is now covered in protest graffiti and shrines to people who have died too young, for no justifiable reason.
There are rumors of people open carrying guns, and that’s rather worrisome to me. There is also rumors of extortion of local businesses, which is outrageous. And one of their demands is that the police department be defunded.
I’m not sure I agree with that. But I DO think police funds should be reallocated away from militarization and toward de-escalation training. I also think that for every cop, their ought to be a social worker. And there should be more citizen oversight and a heck of a lot more accountability. So if anything, these departments need more money, but differently handled. That’s just my opinion.
But it will be interesting to see how the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, a.k.a CHAZ, develops over the next weeks, even months. There’s no specific leadership there. Maybe that’s the point. But I don’t see how that’s sustainable. We’ll see.
I’m rather proud of Seattle for trying for a new society. Of course, Trump takes great exception to any situation that allows we, the people, to speak for ourselves. He tweeted, “Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle.” He blathered on, “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan responded, “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.”
That makes me like her a little more, even though people are calling for her to resign.
I’d like to go check out CHAZ. As of this writing, I’ve only experienced a virtual walk through, on line. If I do go, I’ll blog about it again. But my main takeaway at the moment is that, clearly, change needs to happen for our citizenry. #BlackLivesMatter
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