So, who’s adding CHAZ to their travel bucket list?
With protests still active all over the world — predominantly in the United States– a strong police presence can be felt in nearly every large, populated city. Everywhere, except for Seattle’s east side district of Capitol Hill.
Amid this week’s protests, the Seattle police closed up shop by vacating and boarding up their East Precinct headquarters. Located in an area that is considered a hub of arts and culture—or hipster, alternatively—the local community decided it was time to use that space to spread love, educate one another, and create some much needed good vibes. To make it official, though, they hung a banner that reads ‘THIS SPACE IS NOW PROPERTY OF THE SEATTLE PEOPLE.’
This barricaded area spans about six blocks, and has been adequately labeled as the ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone’ (CHAZ) meaning a zone where you govern and control yourself. There are no police officers, obviously, as occupants monitor who comes in themselves. The qualifications to enter are pretty obvious: anyone who ‘positions themselves for Black lives and against the police.’ Protestors also say it is open to anyone and everyone who simply wants to talk about life and what’s going on in the world.
This isn’t just a large area for people to sit and talk, though—there’s plenty to do. Members who attended have taken it upon themselves to organize speeches, group discussions, concerts, and even film screenings that most recently include the informative Netflix documentary 13th. Oh, free food and medical supplies are available to all occupants as well as La Croix water, because hipster.
This demonstration has of course attracted the attention of the President, who of course tweeted to criticize Washington’s governor as well as the Mayor of Seattle, telling them to ‘take back your city NOW’ and that the ‘ugly Anarchists must be stooped IMMEDIATELY,’ because peacefully watching documentaries and drinking free La Croix is just going too far. Mayor Jenny Durkan wasn’t having it, voicing her support for the protestors in a tweet back to the President:
While their long-term mission is still being worked out, all that matters is what they’re doing right now. One attendee told the Seattle Times “We’re trying to take our community back so we can live without a massive police force patrolling the streets.”