CHAZ 2: Electric Boogaloo

Featured image generated using Online Graffiti generator. Follow the link and have some fun with it.

I remember the last time we had an autonomous zone. It was called the “summer of love,” by Jenny Durkan, the mayor of Seattle.

From CNN via YouTube

According to, the death toll was two, with “four shootings, arson, and several alleged sexual assaults.” But there was racial segregation, a warlord, and graffiti on nearly every single space. Vox goes on to say that people didn’t feel safe enough to walk the street at night. Emergency services couldn’t get into the area because the police couldn’t secure the area. And what was hailed as a place for the “oppressed people,” didn’t do much to protect the people they were claiming to protect.

Eating Inside Seattle's Protest Space Known as CHOP (Also Called the CHAZ)  - Eater Seattle
A racially segregated “Garden” in the CHAZ, from Seattle Eater

And, according to City, all of the shooting victims were black men, “precisely the demographic for whom the CHAZ had claimed to offer protection.” This ratio turned out to be 50 times greater than the city of Chicago, and instead of a summer of love and a peaceful commune, what we ended up with was a lawless zone run by a quasi military warlord.

We are told that Black Lives Matter. But with the continued focus on George Floyd as the trial of Derek Chauvin gets underway, we forget about how the media manipulated the story behind Breonna Taylor, ignore the tragedy of David Dorn, and conveniently forget the names of Lorenzo Anderson, Jr. and Antonio Mays Jr., the shooting victims of the CHAZ.

The saying goes, that history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes. I do think that we should know our history, and be aware of the themes that history shows us. People should be judged on what they do, rather than what they say. In Minneapolis, according to MPR News, another autonomous zone has cropped up. Starting around May 26th 2020, when police data noted people beginning to gather at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, people have transformed that area into “The Free State of George Floyd.” If you don’t believe me, just look at the picture below.

Painted barricades block a city road.
A barricade barring traffic in Minneapolis. Nov. 19, 2020. Evan Frost | MPR News

Violent crime is up in the 8th ward 122 percent, compared to 30 percent in ward 5 and 34 percent countywide. It is unsurprising to me, considering the history of the CHAZ in Seattle. Local officials gave into the demands of those wanting to defund the police, operating under the belief that our entire country is founded upon racist and “white supremacist” principles.

The common refrains are that all cops are bastards, that black people are being hunted when they leave their homes, and that there is systemic racism. To be fair, there are bastard cops, just not all of them. To be fair, there are examples of black people being hunted, take the Ahmaud Arbery shooting that is proceeding with the suspects in custody and charged with murder. This shooting has resulted in changes, as Georgia is voting to repeal a Civil War-era citizen’s arrest law, which passed unanimously in the state House and is endorsed by Republican governor Brian Kemp. And to be fair, there are laws on the books that disproportionately affect black and other minority communities. The ACLU notes that possession of crack cocaine carries a 5 year mandatory minimum for possession of just 5 grams, while powdered cocaine requires 100 times that for the same charge.

There are more nuances to each of the claims, but talking about nuance doesn’t play well for the cameras, and certainly doesn’t elicit the kinds of visceral reactions in people that get them engaged, or keep them reading and clicking, driving ad revenue to the very people wanting to profit off of peoples’ rage.

What I can say, is that if history is any indicator, violence will happen, and people will be harmed. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s