The “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” – wait, what?

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Protesters in Seattle establish what they call the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone"

Though protests and civil unrest seem to have begun subsiding in many places, they have not yet done so in Seattle. Specifically, demonstrations continue in part of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. That area is (or is part of) the Eastern Precinct of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) — the headquarters of which was boarded up and, according to some sources, abandoned. Staffed or not, the SPD’s East Precinct was quickly covered in graffiti. The area around it was soon barricaded off and labeled, among other things, a “cop free zone”. Many signs and graffiti there read Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ).

Social media posts and other e-chatter relating to this area have evidenced tents going up within greater numbers of barricades, the addition of portable restroom facilities, and rumors of a “community center” to be made from the boarded-up SPD building. The area isn’t particularly “autonomous”, given city functions that work in and around it, but it has certainly gotten people’s attention, and not just locally.

The so-called "cop free capitol hill autonomous zone" in Seattle

Some reports of current events in the CHAZ (Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) are more idyllic than others.

The fact that actions like these could lead to a suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act and subsequent deployment of active-duty military personnel doesn’t appear (as of this writing) to be getting much traction. That can and probably will change: it wouldn’t take much mental footwork to equate a barricaded, police-less autonomous zone with “…impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States…by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings”. That’s some of the wording used in 10 U.S. Code § 252, The Insurrection Act

There will be pundits and scholars who say something to the effect of, “It’s one thing to protest and stage marches. Violence and unrest are often a secondary order of effect from demonstrations, this is no surprise. Declaring an area, however small, to be free of US sovereignty is entirely another.”

Capitol-Hill-Autonomous-Zone

Maybe they’d be right to say that. Maybe this is just a temporary, pseudo-hysterical cause célèbre that will go away in the next big news cycle, whatever that is (murder wasps, plagues, etc.). But we’ve already seen that it doesn’t take much to get POTUS’s dander up, justified or not. It’s hard to believe he’s not going to take action, even if all he does is issue social media denunciations and threaten military action. Hell the brand new 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade is right there at JBLM.

Capitol-Hill-Autonomous-Zone

A map circulating widely on social media, unknown source.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country (particularly in states with less restrictive laws), firearms and ammunition (and maybe mags?) will continue to be in short supply. At least in the interim.

The next few days will be interesting. We’ll keep an eye on things and update periodically.

Read more on Reason.com. It would be worthwhile to keep an eye on the Capitol Hill Seattle blog too.

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  • PacksA9

    No need to send troops in. Just cut off water, electricity, gas and cell service. No one goes in or leaves that doesn’t live or have a brick & mortar business there. You want to be autonomous, go for it.

    This is a job for the local & state police. This is what WA state voted for.

  • Dave

    So, they’ve created a LEO free, autonomous zone that has a wall around it (hmmm…),
    and they’ve asked like minded domestic terrorists with weapons to join them to be their security on the wall they’ve built (hmmm….). They invited homeless people to join them, and then whine and beg for food donations because the homeless people ate all their food. When public support wasn’t forthcoming, they began knocking on doors of homes in their little walled city, and vandalizing the houses and terrorizing the occupants who wouldn’t cave to their demands. Meanwhile, the city’s politicians are in hiding, and the various law enforcement agencies are saying clearing the area is someone else’s responsibility. Well, Seattle, it seems you’ve reaped what you sowed…as Pogo (you’re all too young to remember..) said: “We have met the enemy, and he is us!”

  • Bill Towell

    Violent takeover of both public and private property by radicals, whether the terrorists Antifa or not, is illegal. So is violence. Besides reports of extortion, Police Chief Best stated: “Our calls for service have more than tripled,” she told reporters. “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.”
    This is not 1917, so these Bolsheviks will not have their revolution.

  • No safety

    Is it just me, or isn’t it ironic that, presumably, people of the same mindset who argue against barricades/walls/barriers at our southern border had erected barricades and barriers to protect what they illegally claim as theirs? Let’s not even get into the masked gunmen they are using for “protection”. Hey folks, pick a side!