The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), also known as the Seattle Autonomous Zone, refers to a six-block region of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood outside the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department that has declared itself separate from the United States government; though, has not been recognized by local or federal governments. Activists established the area during the 2020 George Floyd Protests against police violence and brutality, using police and road barricades left behind from standoffs between law enforcement and protesters. While the city has not recognized the area, protesters use the Seattle Autonomous Zone as an activist encampment with food, water and tents.
On June 8th, 2020, protesters declared the Seattle Autonomous Zone after police abandoned the area to de-escalate interactions with protesters. Before the establishment of the Autonomous Zone, police used tear gas in an attempt to clear the region.
That day, reports of the autonomous zone began appearing online. For example, Twitter user @anarchomastia tweeted, “People have established a 6 block autonomous zone in cap hill. Walled off with staggered barricades with teams setting up bathroom distributing food and water, disabling security cameras. This is revolutionary praxis.” The Instagram account @decolonizethisplace shared the tweet with a photograph of a road barrier that reads, “You are now entering the Cap Hill Autonomous Zone.” The post on Instagram received more than 12,000 likes in less than two days (shown below).
Activists build their own barricades to protect themselves pic.twitter.com/ilGct7ZVQ6
— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) June 9, 2020
On June 8th, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted, ” officers have removed barricades surrounding the East Precinct while safely securing the facility” (shown below).
Following reports of the Autonomous Zone, people online began posting images of maps, detailing the extent of the area. Twitter user @grnr_s tweeted one with the caption, “If you like the mapping status of the toppled/dumped statue in Bristol, you’re gonna like this: ‘Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, an autonomous area in central #Seattle as of June 9th. Notable due to historical significance'” (shown below, left).
Others posted images of the area. Twitter user @historyofarmani tweeted, “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. 6 blocks retaken back for the people. ‘You are now leaving the USA’ when you enter. Long live the fucking revolution.” The tweet received more than 33,000 likes and 8,800 retweets in less than two days (shown below, center).
Twitter user @BRRN_Fed tweeted, “Good morning to the Seattle Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone!” The tweet received more than 38,000 likes and 13,000 retweets in less than two days (shown below, right).
defund the police‘: paramilitary gangs seize control and impose their ideology outside the bounds of the democratic process.” The post received more than 6,300 shares, 1,900 reactions and 1,700 comments in less than 24 hours (shown below).
On June 9th, Redditor Lorddoener launched the /r/CapHillAutonomousZone subreddit. That day, a thread about the Autonomous Zone in /r/ChapoTrapHouse subreddit received more than 5,600 points (99% upvoted0 and 540 comments in less than 24 hours.
On June 9th, Redditor Thomas200389 posted an image of two armed people in the Autonomous Zone in the /r/liberalgunowners subreddit. They wrote, “Puget sound gun club patrolling The autonomous zone which was set up and being run by the protestors in cap hill. It’s a Self contained and guarded zone for protestors to get food, medical treatment, and sleep. Police have willingly pulled out of the area for de-escalation.” The post received more than 4,200 points (93% upvoted) and 450 comments in less than 24 hours (shown below).
On June 10th, Twitter user @TheWholeStory6 posted a video in which a graffiti artist appears to get involved in a physical confrontation with a man identified as rapper Raz Simone. During the video, a voice can be heard speaking to the graffiti artist, stating “we are the police of this community now” (shown below).
Policing in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone by— TheWholeStory (TheWholeStory6) June 10, 2020
RazSimone. There appear to be no body cameras, reports, or oversight and accountability. This was an attempt at de-escalation for spraying paint onto a building which resulted in an alleged assault. #chaz #FreeCapitolHill pic.twitter.com/dI1J6QNcpn
— RHGR (@RHGR) June 10, 2020