Seattle Activists Declare “Capitol HIll Autonomous Zone” As Police Retreats

Overview

The Seattle Autonomous Zone, also known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), 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.

Background

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).


You re OU gre now enteringg the AP HILLAUTONonous ZONE Pink Red
Twitter user @AGarlandPhoto tweeted a video of the areas, writing, “Activists build their own barricades to protect themselves” (shown below).

Developments

Government Reaction

On June 8th, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted, ” officers have removed barricades surrounding the East Precinct while safely securing the facility” (shown below).


Mayor Jenny Durkan @MayorJenny In an effort to proactively de-escalate interactions between protestors and law enforcement outside the East Precinct, Chief Best and @SeattlePD officers have removed barricades surrounding the East Precinct while safely securing the facility. 11:20 PM · Jun 8, 2020 · TweetDeck 88 Retweets 197 Likes Mayor Jenny Durkan O @MayorJenny · Jun 8 Replying to @MayorJenny and @SeattlePD In addition, @SeattleFire has several vehicles stationed near the Precinct to ensure emerging medical needs and fires are addressed if necessary. Keeping this area safe is critical, as there are approximately 500 residential homes in this block. 27 10 69 50 Mayor Jenny Durkan O @MayorJenny · Jun 8 As the Chief takes this operational step, we will continue to remain focused on what we can and must do to address the systemic inequities that continue to disproportionately impact our Black residents. 29 27 7 29 Mayor Jenny Durkan O @MayorJenny · Jun 8 Yesterday, we announced a commitment to invest $100 million dollars into community – in addition to existing city programs – and to work with community to create a Black Commission that will help to amplify black voices in City Hall. 67 27 17 81 Mayor Jenny Durkan Keeping demonstrations peaceful must be a joint effort between our community members and law enforcement. I am hopeful that tonight, with these operational changes, our city can peacefully move forward together. @MayorJenny · Jun 8 Text Font

Online Reaction

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).


Seb @grnr_s If you like the mapping status of the toppled/dumped statue in Bristol, you're gonna like this: Armani @historyofarmani 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. BLM FREE Zone CAPITOLHILL AUTONOMOUS ZONE Fuck 12 Uou are now leaving the USA 1:18 PM · Jun 9, 2020 · Twitter for iPhone  data-src="https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/860/502/1bf.png" class="lazyload" src="data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw=="><noscript><img src="https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/001/860/502/1bf.png" alt= Font Text” class=” kym-image image-auto-link” id=”photo_1860502″ title=”Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. 6 blocks retaken back for the people. “You are now leaving the USA” when you enter. “>

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