14 reasons why Seattle’s cop-free CHAZ has resulted in murder, shootings, racism, and fear in the community

By John Cody
27 Min Read

With Seattle’s autonomous zone reporting its first shooting death, the questions of how this “country within a country” has resulted in such a tragedy in such a short period of time is more relevant than ever.

Many are familiar with the anarchist project known as the Central Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) or alternatively the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) that currently occupies six-square city blocks of downtown Seattle, but for most people it has been difficult to keep up with the news and developments streaming out of the controversial project. Here are 14 of the most disturbing, shocking, and strange aspects of life in CHOP/CHAZ that every normal person should be aware of.

Police blocked from helping shooting victim in CHOP/CHAZ

Following a shooting that killed one 19-year-old male and left another in serious condition in Seattle’s autonomous zone, the city’s police department says that a “violent crowd” blocked them from reaching the victims.

The police department released body-cam footage of the incident which shows eight officers trying to enter the area and reach the victims. Protesters responded by yelling at the officers.

Footage shows one officer saying, “Please move out of the way so we can get to the victim. All we are trying to do is get to the victim and provide them aid.”

Someone from the crowd yells at the police in response, “You don’t belong here, they’re gone, the victim is gone.” Another says, “Put your f***ing guns down.”

Another clip shows the crowd yelling at the officers.  The officers return to their vehicles, and one officer can be heard yelling, “Move, move out of the way” as residents of CHOP appear to hit his car.

As of yet, no suspects in the shooting have been arrested.

Armed CHOP/CHAZ ‘security’ guards confiscate phone after second shooting

CHAZ suffered another shooting 48 hours after the first one, according to the Seattle Times.

During the shooting, Shawn Whiting, who was livestreaming on Twitch at the time, had his phone confiscated by CHAZ ‘security’ who demanded he delete the footage from his phone. In Whiting’s video, gunshots can be heard and people are seen running. The confiscation of the phone by the CHAZ security detail raises concerns that these groups may destroy evidence that could help solve a murder.

Still, many are claiming there are no guns in the zone despite the rash of shootings and photos of gun-wielding guards.

An armed Soundcloud rapper serves as leader in CHOP/CHAZ

In order to understand how CHOP could produce an atmosphere in which protesters respond to a shooting by blocking police and medics from helping multiple shooting victims, some of the most influential members of the community, such as Soundcloud rapper Raz Simone, may have something to do with it.

Raz appears to have become a quasi-police chief inside the CHOP zone and has been filmed with armed men patrolling the area, serving as a de facto police force to fill the power vacuum that arose once the real police exited the area.

Raz, who has often been referred to as a “warlord” by those critical of the CHOP leader, has been filmed patrolling the area with an assault rifle and even recorded handing out AR-15 assault rifles from the trunk of a car. Washington is an open carry state, but the manner in which he distributes firearms to what appears to be virtual strangers had already raised concerns about the possibility of a shooting even before this week’s tragic murder.

One post from Ian Miles Cheong, the managing editor of Human Events, drew attention to the absurd rise of Raz to the forefront of the CHOP movement:

In one video, Raz can be seen chasing an alleged thief who complains that Raz’s crew held an “AR” assault rifle at him, to which one member of CHOP said the accused man deserved it for trying to “burn” their place down. Raz then ordered the alleged thief’s bag searched, which was also filmed by OANN journalist Jack Posobiec.

Posobiec, who spent time in CHOP to document conditions on the ground, said the area is policed by “Raz and elements of Antifa, both of whom are armed. So the media’s completely lying to you when they say there’s no armed security.”

He described Raz as a “tin-pot warlord,” who had implemented “mob rule” and “mob justice.”

Posobiec said there was a notable difference in the atmosphere in CHOP during the day versus the night, and that most media reports painting the area as a peaceful “street festival” were only focusing on what the area was like during the day.

Raz seems to be willing to resort to violence with little provocation, and has also been recorded hitting a man filming inside CHOP.

Police were already unable to respond to rapes and robberies

Once CHAZ was founded and left-wing groups successfully cleared police from the area, Seattle’s police department was suddenly unable to respond to calls for rapes, robberies, and other serious crimes, a fact confirmed by the city’s police chief.

Such behavior was on full display when police tried to respond to the first shooting this week.

“Our calls for service have more than tripled,” Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best also said during a press conference. “These are responses to emergency calls — rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts that have been occurring in the area that we’re not able to get to.”

She noted that emergency response waiting times have more than tripled, jumping to just over five minutes to 18 minutes. In the case of the shooting, police were violently pushed back from aiding shooting victims and investigating a murder.

The media appears to have a different take.

“What you now have is about six or seven city blocks filled with protesters. Now, by all accounts, this is a peaceful protest. It has taken on the tenor and tone of a street festival where you have speakers, and they’re giving out free food,” CNN correspondent Dan Simon said to Wolf Blitzer on-air.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also said that CHAZ had more of a “block party” atmosphere while speaking with CNN.

However, protesters do not necessarily agree with the “street festival” description. In fact, one protester was furious during an interview with MSNBC for using the term “street festival” to describe CHOP.

“It is not a street festival. It is not a street festival,” the CHOP demonstrator said to the reporter. “Do not say that. Shame on you for saying that.”

Police sometimes don’t even show up

While the Seattle Police Department asserts that police are responding to 911 calls involving life-threatening situations from CHOP, the footage from the police shooting is not the only instance that tells a different story.

For example, last weekend, a store owner in CHOP, John McDermott, tried to stop Richard Hanks who was allegedly breaking into his store, stealing property and trying to start a fire. Despite the owner calling the police 19 times, neither they nor firefighters responded.

McDermott and his son, Mason McDermott, tackled the suspect, who tried to cut them with a boxcutter, and tried to hold him down for police who never came.

Video of the incident shows a mob breaking down a fence to the business and helping to release the suspect.

“We’re just trying to run a small business, make a living, be good members of society, and try to be good neighbors to the neighborhood and I think we’ve really been let down by the mayor’s office, the Seattle Police Department and the fire department,” McDermott said.

Other serious crimes have also been reported in the autonomous zone.

On June 18, police arrested Robert James after he left the CHOP zone, and he has been accused of sexually assaulting a deaf woman who he allegedly lured inside a tent. On the same day, former city council candidate Isaiah Willoughby was arrested and accused of starting an arson attack on the area’s East Precinct on June 12.

Michael Solan, the head of Seattle’s police union, also slammed the decision to leave the precinct, calling it “the closest I’ve seen to our country becoming a lawless state.”

Businesses and residents are scared to be in CHOP

While some businesses embrace the protesters, others are scared due to incidents like the one described in the previous incident. That is why businesses across the CHOP/CHAZ area have remained shuttered, including a Trader Joe’s which said it was closing indefinitely.

Residents have also said they are scared to be in the neighborhood.

According to Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, 18 residents of the Packard Building Apartments located in CHAZ produced a list of joint safety and security concerns, which they want to send to Mayor Durkan, the Seattle City Council, and other city department officials. They stated that at least five residents have moved out of the building in just 48 hours.

One resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the blog: “People that are coming out here and participating, whether it was during the protests or during the occupation now, they have the option of opting out. They can choose when to come here and when to leave, and if they want to go home to their other neighborhood and have a good night’s rest, they get to choose that.”

“We don’t get to choose how we participate in this and we have no say of what’s gong on or any of the outcomes, and so I think there’s a growing frustration or uncertainty of what’s going to happen and how it’s directly impacting the permanent residents.”

CHAZ speaker demands reparations

During one viral video which has been watched over 2.4 million times, a non-black speaker in CHAZ is heard saying that every white people in CHOP should give a black person $10.

The speaker in the video says:

“I want you to find, by the time you leave this autonomous zone, I want you to give $10 dollars to one African American person from this autonomous zone. And if you find that’s difficult – if you find it’s hard for you to give $10 dollars to people of color, to black people especially, you have to think really critically about in the future, are you going to actually give up power and land and capital when you have it?

If you have a hard time giving up $10 dollars, you have to think about: are you really down with this struggle? Are you really down with the movement? Because if that is a challenge for you, I’m not sure if you’re in the right place.

So find an African American person. White people, I see you. I see every one of you, and I remember your faces. You find that African American person and you give them ten dollars. Cash up, venmo, ten dollars in your pocket. That’s my challenge to you. Do it.”

CHAZ/CHOP has created racially segregated areas

Seattle’s autonomous zone has implemented racial segregation in a number of areas. For example, some zones are reserved only for BIPOC—“Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.”  Marcus Henderson, a black male and urban farmer who holds an engineering degree from Stanford, has been posting his urban garden projects in Cal Anderson Park on Instagram, including one which has the sign, “This garden is for black and indigenous folks and their plant allies.” In an interview, he said his project was a response to “the question of how Black people have been disenfranchised for so long” and a demonstration of “collective land ownership, taking back property and really making it work for the people.”

The zone does not only have segregated areas, but even features segregated holidays. For Juneteenth, no white people were to be permitted inside Cal Park, which is within the CHOP area. In one video, one half-Colombian man tries to enter the “Blackout” area of the park during the holiday, but is told it is only for blacks by a white woman guarding it.

An event on Facebook also confirmed that the event entitled “Juneteenth Blackout at the CHOP” would not be welcome to whites. 

What protesters in CHOP really want

Protesters have released a list of demands, including abolishing the police, the courts, and all the prisons.

One of the leaders of the moment, Jaiden Grayson, made it clear that they are not there to be peaceful.

“Every day that I show up here, I’m not here to peacefully protest,” Grayson told documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz on video.

“I’m here to disrupt until my demands are met,” Grayson said. “You cannot rebuild until you break it all the way down.”

Grayson also warned they would not stop protesting until their demands are met “by any means necessary.”

“If the Seattle Police Department turns in their badges, we’ll have made a move forward,” Grayson said, who identifies as an “African brought to America.”

In the same video, another protester with Grayson can be heard saying, ‘F**k the property. f**k the consumption, f**k capitalism.”

Another said, “White people owned slaves, so f**k them.”

Another man wearing sunglasses and had his faced covered said, “If there’s no change, there might be a lot more destroying until there is, but I think some destruction and looting kinda sends the message to people and breaking their s**t is justified.”

Mental illness on display in CHOP

The stereotype that CHOP is full of drugs has some element of truth. For example, two addicts overdosed on the same day and the resulting untreated mental health issues arise further challenge the idea that the small autonomous zone is anything close to the peaceful street festival many are attempting to present it as.

Incidents such as this one, which is not safe for work, have been filmed inside the autonomous zone.


CHOP/CHAZ built a ‘border wall’

In its effort to build a truly autonomous zone, CHOP installed barricades and fencing around its perimeter and even had armed guards present to check IDs.

Police Assistant Chief Deanna Nollette said, “We’ve been hearing from community members that they have been subjected to barricades set up by the protesters with some armed individuals running them as checkpoints,” Nollette said, adding, “we have heard anecdotally of citizens and businesses being asked to pay a fee to operate within this area. This is the crime of extortion.” Nollette urged “anyone who feels threatened to call 911.”

On social media, many pointed out the hypocrisy of progressives opposing border walls for the U.S. but installing one in the autonomous zone. 

CHOP also performs ‘deportations’

For those who do not fit the ideological ideals of CHOP, they will be forcibly evicted by the mob.
That was at least the case for one person who escorted out for promoting anti-abortion viewpoints in scenes captured on film by reporter Julio Rosas.

Journalists are stalked and even assaulted by CHOP’s armed guards

Journalists with viewpoints that do not perfectly align with CHOP’s ideology have been targeted for assault. While organizations like Reporters Without Borders routinely report on intimidation, beatings and murders of journalists, CHOP has garnered little coverage for how it treats those documenting protests there, especially from national news outlets.

One journalist from NBC’s Seattle affiliate King 5 entered the zone and was menacingly followed by what the King 5 reporter said was a young man who had a “9-milimerter gun on his hip”. When the reporter confronts the young security guard and asked why he is being followed, the armed guard responds, “Just to make sure you’re not doing anything that you don’t need to be doing.” He only agreed to leave the reporter alone if he stopped filming.

In another video that has been seen over 6.5 million times, reporter Brandi Kruse posted her harrowing experience with CHAZ security to Facebook, writing:

I want you to see this. I hope you will watch every minute so you can feel the fear we felt. So you can hear my tears at the end. This video was taken Monday, June 8, the night Seattle left the East Police Precinct to protesters. Our crew was targeted, stalked, harassed, and assaulted. The level of vitriol from one member of the mob, who claimed she was a “social worker,” was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. When elected leaders lump this type of behavior into what they’re calling “peaceful,” not only is it a lie, but it’s deeply offensive to those who have been subjected to it. I hope this video is spread widely. Seattle needs to do better.

In another case, individuals reporting on CHOP for Turning Point USA, a conservative organization, were also violently assaulted.

Once again, the mainstream media reports from the area paint a very different picture.

“The entire area was now a homeland for racial justice – and, depending on the protester one talked to, perhaps something more,” Mike Baker wrote for the New York Times about his time in CHAZ. “What has emerged is an experiment in life without the police – part street festival, part commune. Hundreds have gathered to hear speeches, poetry and music.”

CHOP is literally calling for people’s heads to be chopped off

In what a direct reference to the French Revolution and the bloody Reign of Terror, protesters literally are calling for people’s heads to be chopped off if they do not agree with what CHOP stands for.

“Does anybody know what happened to the people who did not get on board with the French Revolution?”

“Chopped!” the crowd answers in a video posted to Twitter. ”

Say it louder,” the speaker demands.

“Chop!” the crowd responds.

“That is the message we need to send. We are serious. This is not a joke. I am tired of seeing my people be genocided (sic) by every definition of the word. It is not CHAZ, it is CHOP,” he yells.

During the French Revolution of the 18th century, numerous enemies of the revolutionary movement, including clergy, landowners, and the aristocracy, were targeted for execution via the guillotine.

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