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CHS Pics | Counting victories after an 18-day battle and a week holding valuable territory on Capitol Hill

It is not Capitol Hill Block Party but it is OK if sometimes the sights and sounds coming out of the protest zone and camp growing around Cal Anderson Park look like nothing more than a big crowd of people having a good time in the middle of Capitol Hill.

There are big problems to solve in the operations and safety around the camp and major protests efforts will continue.

But organizers and the community that has formed seem to know the energy is part of the draw. Even as 12th and Pine has been converted into a speaker’s square for teach-ins and learning, there has also been time for live music and DJs. Efforts to keep neighbors informed about the goings on around the camp also feel a little like the canceled annual musical festival with the inclusion of a “noise forecast” and planned DJ set times.

Tents have, indeed, sprouted in Cal Anderson along with the gardens. People already living homeless have joined protesters and occupiers keeping the space.


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“There is a co-op which is basically a free grocery store for participants in the protest which does include homeless people,” a neighbor who has been documenting the camp writes in the CHS Facebook group. “They have a ton of donations and are accepting donations. The closest you can get a car to that area is 11th & Pike where you drive up to the WeWork building.”

Sunday, meanwhile, brought Indigenous leaders, drum circles, and a large “tarpee” teepee made of tarps to the scene. “What are you learning?,” one sign reminds.

The brighter times shine a little stronger given the dark days that preceded formation of the camp when two weeks of heavy policing and a military-style blockade of the streets exploded in one last Sunday night conflagration described by many as the most aggressive show of crowd control firepower yet by SPD. The terrible crescendo came only hours after a Mayor Jenny Durkan speech on deescalation. It has been  — comparatively — a week of peace since.

What is being accomplished? The demands shaped by the community are many and sprawling. But there are victories and paths to progress to count:

  1. Leaders including activist and lawyer Nikkita Oliver began talks with Mayor Durkan on efforts to reform policing in Seattle and “#defundSPD” demands to radically reduce the police department’s budget, increase spending on social programs, and pledge to drop charges against the 90+ people arrested so far during the demonstrations
  2. Durkan and Chief Best agreed to drop the city’s nightly curfew after criticism that it inhibited fair and legal protest and the City Attorney announced Seattle’s bid to end or reduce the federal consent decree oversight of its police force in place for years after findings of biased policing would also be put on ice
  3. Durkan announced she asked officials to review Seattle Police crowd control policy in light of what she called “the pink umbrella incident” when police reacted to a pink umbrella thrust over a barrier outside the East Precinct at 11th and Pine with a barrage of pepper spray and blast grenades that led to a night filled with clouds of tear gas throughout Pike/Pine and a major clash with protesters
  4. After nights of complaints about officers covering their badge numbers, Chief Best also announced a new policy covering so-called “mourning bands” used by police to express respect for fallen officers. The new guidelines require all officers to “have their badge numbers prominently displayed.”
  5. Durkan and Best also agreed to ban most use of tear gas for 30 days while all crowd control tactics can be evaluated. A loophole allowing its use when authorized by command proved the ban toothless, however. Monday, the Seattle City Council is set to vote on a tighter ban on chemical weapons and dangerous tactics like chokeholds
  6. The city ended eight years of delay to announce it will transfer 23rd and Yesler’s Fire Station 6 to Africatown for development of the William Grose Center for Cultural Innovation. The Africatown-led King County Equity Now coalition has a full list of demands and five more properties in the CD it is targeting.
  7. And, of course, Free Capitol Hill formed as the tear gas clouds dissipated and the echoes of blast bombs faded with SPD temporarily (?) evacuating its East Precinct headquarters

Not bad for an 18-day battle and a week holding important new territory.


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24 thoughts on “CHS Pics | Counting victories after an 18-day battle and a week holding valuable territory on Capitol Hill

  1. What about the building owners and CH businesses? Do you think any of them will want to put another dime into this neighborhood after the kids get tired of playing. Count the dead… start with Trader Joes. Honestly I wish one person in town would notice that all that is really going on here is an epic game of Virtual Signaling. After the 1992 LA Riots the “occupied property” stayed a desolate slum for the next 38 years….Hope this was worth it. Welcome to new Detroit.

    • Many of the business owners in that area have spoken out in favor (for some, it’s the most businees they’ve seen in a while) – before CHOP (nee CHAZ), they opened bathrooms for protestors, stored supplies over the 3 week rebellion, and others were medic “tents.” It’s not like it’s the protestors, the cops, and everyone else. I mean, they did open their businesses on Capitol Hill, after all.

      • Of course not. New Detritus has an inflated sense of self-importance, pontificates from ignorance and just likes to make noise.

  2. Given what it will cost to clean up all the tagging, rehabilitate Cal Anderson Park, get the precinct up and running, all that money could have gone to something like services for youth of color. But instead a handful of white anarchists and some unemployable activists have soaked it up playing fort. Given the video I saw today from inside CHOP its full of lookie loos and tourists…just a block party. Black adults with their own views and trying to speak were booed on a different day. Any important societal message has been squandered by zealots.

    • Get the precinct…up and running…huh.

      “Black adults with their own views and trying to speak were booed on a different day” – was that the day they went through with the American flag as clothing, masks and went as a parade with a huge one on a big pole too?

      “all that money” is a drop in the bucket to what defunding the police will amount to…

  3. As a long time Capitol Hill resident, I think we live in what is basically the Chaz/Chop. Sometimes I think it’s the DMZ between the city and the protest, where the antagonists are either unaware or want avoid at all costs. From our perspective the scene in and around Cal Anderson park is devolving into an endless party, and is growing extremely distressing and belligerent. Lots of drinking and drug use combined with stereo systems running hours upon end and late into the evening (sometimes continuing into the early morning), dwarfing anything that we encounter during a regular Capitol Hill weekend. The level of noise sometimes makes us wonder if we are being intentionally terrorized.

    Regularly people congregate below our window smoking cigarettes and weed, and it is constant enough to where we avoid opening our windows. It’s going to be fun summer! One of my recent charming Chaz experiences was negotiating with a tagger to spray paint the building wall below our windows to when we went to run our Sunday errands. All in attempt to have a little moment to open the windows and let some fresh air into the place and not breath aerosol paint fumes.

    We are starting to avoid going out in the evenings, knowing that we will encounter people using drugs or relieving themselves in the entry ways. Men urinating in public all around the west side of the park is pretty common. And we want to give the benefit of doubt to the increasing packs of young men wandering the neighborhood late in the evening, but still…

    We’ve attempted to initiate a dialogue with our new neighbors, but have so far been disappointed by the response. If the Chaz is decentralized, it is equally disorganized, and possibly out-of-control. Considering some news events over the weekend, we are beginning to feel the Chaz is structurally unable to coordinate among residents and establish any consensus regarding rules or standards. And this group tasked itself with providing security in the area? Hopefully we are wrong, and maintain hope they can figure this out, because otherwise we have a situation where something may go terribly wrong. (As I type this, people are fighting in the street and vandalizing someone’s car)

    I know a lot of tourists from Ballard, Wallingford, U-District, and even Capitol Hill residents who live just a few blocks away, like to come here for a few hours to experience the revolutionary spirit. But it is a very different thing to live with it daily. There is a real sense that things are deteriorating.

    This isn’t to say we are unimpressed by the courage of the protesters, and more broadly feel really positive about the future of this city and country than we have felt in a long time. For the most part, the people we meet are extremely sincere and really care about others and this community.

    Anyway, I know we are a minority and a small inconsequential, maybe even solitary, voice in this greater moment, but wanted to lend a differing perspective to some of the comments I’ve seen here.

    • Thank you, “Chaz Neighbor”, for your eloquent, spot-on perspective. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said. I too have lived on 11th AVE for many years, between Pike and Pine.

      I moved here because of the vibrant, accepting neighborhood, and I honor the protests, the reason for the protests, and our right to protest. Yet I don’t recognize this neighborhood now — especially as the general mood on the street is currently changing in an ominous direction, particularly after dark.

      I have never felt more unsafe in my home, more saddened by the graffiti-covered state of the walls and streets out front, nor more disappointed in an initially meaningful and courageous protest that is changing direction into a lingering street fair without no end in sight.

    • 1) I don’t think we are in the minority. 2) the disclaimer that we are facing is not a big deal compared to black people being killed by cops is lame. There’s plenty of Injustice it happens to everybody I am not sure why people should have their neighborhoods over run by people who don’t live in that neighborhood because they are angry about a wrong that happened in another state. If Asians were mad about an injustice that happened in another state and Asian activists and their followers went to a predominantly Black or Hispanic neighborhoodand showed no regard for the people living there it would not be greeted warmly. Black suffering is being recognized as an excuse to leverage power, extortion, abuse and to create false narratives. I keep hearing people now refer to Capitol Hill as being a predominantly black neighborhood.untrue and has been untrue the entire time I’ve lived in Seattle.

    • I have not personally felt unsafe living here, but I think a lot of what people are seeing can be attributed to the homeless sweeps. Cal Anderson has become a destination because there is food, water, toilets, medical care, and safety, especially from the sweeps which can mean the loss of a homeless persons possessions. We need to better options, we need to get these people off the streets and in to some sort of housing. Other than that, I just wish they’d turn the music way down at night.

  4. I do not agree that all the arrested protesters should be set free. They should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some should be set free for lack of evidence, or if their crime was so minor as to be consequential. Others, where evidence is incriminating and where they committed significant property crimes and theft, should be charged and prosecuted.

    It’s called the “rule of law.”

  5. Thank you, “Chaz Neighbor”, for your eloquent, spot-on perspective. I wholeheartedly agree with what you said. I too have lived on 11th AVE for many years, between Pike and Pine.

    I moved here because of the vibrant, accepting neighborhood, and I honor the protests, the reason for the protests, and our right to protest. Yet I don’t recognize this neighborhood now — especially as the general mood on the street is currently changing in an ominous direction, particularly after dark.

    I have never felt more unsafe in my home, more saddened by the graffiti-covered state of the walls and streets out front, nor more disappointed in an initially meaningful and courageous protest that is changing direction into a lingering street fair with no end in sight.

    • I have lived in the CHAZ zone for 25 years and now I am being told that to leave my house I am supposed to be giving money to every black person I see. I have noticed the vast majority of activists, of all racial groups, do not live in this neighborhood. A lot of irony for people complaining about gentrification and colonial ization coming to other people’s neighborhoods disrupting it and then demanding they give you money by saying you’re victimizing them. it’s also interesting to see African immigrants who have been in this country for 10 minutes being a treated as though this country has victimized them in the same way as the indigenous people. It is obscene and exploitive to group the Natives in the Northwest in with people who moved here from Somalia 3 years ago.

  6. The entire world knows the truth of the WMD Sonic Attacks that are the weaponization of sound through Artificial Intelligence, Sonic Weapons and Extreme Fascist American Secret Police Hunting that are a paramilitary militia in the USA . The current USA competes treasonously with China’s Internanationally known Police State, Concentration Camps, One Party Policy where Chinaman works only for the party in stated policy instead of prioritizing the Constitution . Law Enforcement using simpler codes and bypassing security measures on all electronic device to weaponize all devices into Sonic Weapons that create pearcing, screeching sound attacks as economic terrorist Data Cloud. The Foreign Consulate’s should be removed that promote treasonous, unconstitutional, Genocidal U.S Foreign Policy corruption along with Foreign MNCs that lobby, illegally bribe to promote treasonous, unconstitutional, Genocidal U.S Foreign Policy corruption as with the Colonial, Tyrranical Black Site Death Camps at Diego Garcia – Internationally World Renowned.

    • Take a deep breath, take your medications as prescribed, and make sure to attend your next regulary scheduled group therapy meeting. Remember, it will be OK – take a deep breath.

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