• Dubbed a 'lawless state' by some, the CHAZ or CHOP, Seattle's newest neighborhood, tries to create its own narrative

    From Cameron@bigots-censors@google.com to alt.politics.trump,alt.politics.media,sac.politics,alt.politics.liberalism,alt.fan.rush-limbaugh on Mon Dec 14 04:33:03 2020
    From Newsgroup: alt.politics.media

    Just after noon on Saturday, a part of Cal Anderson Park that
    has been repurposed into a combination campground, community
    garden and union hall was abuzz with purposeful activity. Dozens
    of people with rakes and wheelbarrows spread top soil and
    chicken manure in newly planted gardens.

    Others gathered in small groups to discuss plans for no-till
    farming and fundraising for medical supplies. Another topic: How
    to cope with the growing number of onlookers who seem to regard
    what is known variously as CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone)
    or CHOP (Capitol Hill Occupied Protest), among other titles, as
    the city’s newest tourist attraction.

    “It’s voyeurism,” said a silver-hair woman named Gabriella, a
    self-described “camp mom” who sometimes has to ask visitors not
    to take pictures of people in their tents.

    Such concerns are a far cry from the ominous agenda that much of
    the outside world seems to have assigned this six-block
    experiment in alternative community that is emerging in the
    heart of Capitol Hill and the center of the national debate over
    police reform.

    Indeed, for some conservative commentators and parts of the
    political establishment, the occupation of this small stretch
    of Seattle has become the latest symbol of failed progressive
    politics and the unchecked rise of anarchy and protests. “This
    is the closest I’ve ever seen our country, let alone the city
    here, to becoming a lawless state,” Michael Solan, president of
    the Seattle Police Officers Guild, told Fox News on Friday.
    “This could metastasize across the country,” Solan added on
    “Cavuto Live” on Saturday.

    But on this particular afternoon, many of the members of that
    “lawless state” seemed less focused on defying the establishment
    than in recreating elements of that establishment in ways that
    advance the goals of the new community.

    Near one of the newly planted gardens, a person named Clem
    described the emerging community in terms of something called a
    “social change ecosystem,” in which participants take on
    critical roles, such as disrupters, builders, healers,
    experimenters and front-line responders, to create a new kind of
    society. “It isn’t just necessarily anarchy,” says Clem. “But
    it’s allowing people to do what they want to do.”

    Over the last few days, that has meant everything from managing
    Venmo accounts to handle cash donations to coming up with
    infrastructure for things like water.

    Not far from Clem, a 31-year-old Columbia City man named Marcus
    Henderson talked with several other volunteers about ways to
    build a rainwater collection system. “We don’t know if the city
    is going to give us access to water,” said Henderson. “And even
    if they did give us access to water, we need to put down drip
    lines … so that we’re not out here with buckets.”

    Another task: Organizing to handle potential tensions with
    police and other outsiders, especially after dark.

    “We basically don’t sleep until the sun comes up,” said one man,
    who describes the constant concern members of the community have
    about being overrun by the police.

    Others talk about the delicate and evolving challenge of making
    people feel safe under often stressful circumstances within a
    highly diverse and eclectic community. At any given moment, the
    six-block zone is home not only to activists of various
    political leanings and objectives, but people experiencing
    homelessness or other personal challenges who have flocked to
    the park because it feels relatively safe.

    As a result, some occupiers say they often find themselves in
    the role of social service provider and dispute resolver. That
    describes Andy, a former cook who now works to “de-escalate a
    situation without using physical harm or being super
    confrontational.” When he finds someone in crisis or becoming
    confrontational, he says, his preferred technique is “just walk
    them around to make sure … they have someone to talk to for a
    second … because people just need to vent sometimes.”

    Running this new community also requires a constant negotiating
    with the outside world. That has meant keeping up a dialogue
    with police as well as other city officials. Henderson, the
    water czar, says he has met several times with officials with
    city parks and other departments to see what the city will and
    won’t allow, in terms of projects such as raised bed gardens. “I
    think they’ve given us at least a yellow light to proceed with
    caution to kind of keep doing this.”

    Members have also been acutely conscious of how their still-
    evolving objectives are playing to the outside world.

    For some members that awareness has meant trying to come up with
    a less provocative name for the occupation. “I don’t like the
    word ‘autonomous,'” says one. “We’re not trying to secede from
    the city. We just want policing that’s a less hard-core.”
    Another wanted to call it “auto zone.”

    For others, that awareness of image has meant working to
    discourage any destructive acts that might play into the
    conservative narrative. On Friday night, for example, Seattle
    police reported that someone attempted to set a fire at the
    abandoned East Precinct building. Video of the incident showed
    nearby people on the streets rushing to extinguish it.

    And on Saturday evening, some occupiers worked to diffuse a
    shouting match between some of the occupiers and a small group
    of apparent counterprotesters who showed up at the park with a
    pair of American flags, one of which was grabbed away.

    The flag incident highlighted just how complicated and
    paradoxical the situation is in the area. While some occupiers
    see their mission as setting an example of an alternative to
    mainstream city life, others seem to very much regard the “zone”
    as an independent state.

    As the flag-bearing counterprotesters left, one occupier
    reportedly shouted “that’s the border — let them go!”

    The incident also captured the deeply tenuous nature of
    occupation. Many members here seem deeply aware that their
    enterprise could be swept away as easily as if it were a
    homeless encampment.

    In fact, some think that the only way to avoid such a fate, or
    at least forestall it, is to make sure the zone continues to be
    an attraction for ordinary Seattleites — even those who are just
    there to take a picture.

    Seattle Times video journalist Lauren Frohne contributed to
    this report.

    Paul Roberts: proberts@seattletimes.com; on Twitter:

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/dubbed-a-lawless-state- by-some-the-chaz-or-chop-seattles-newest-neighborhood-tries-to- create-its-own-narrative/

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