Third week of protests begins with thousands marching and a CHAZ CHOP rally targeting the ‘affluent white communities of Seattle’

Massive crowds marched down E Madison for a rally at the beach

Massive crowds marched down E Madison for a rally at the beach

Protesters against police brutality and inequity were marching east on Madison Friday afternoon when they passed tall fencing and finely pruned bushes.

It was the gated Broadmoor community and the main goal of the march, which started inside the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone and ended about three miles away at Madison Park Beach, was to engage rich, white neighborhoods in Seattle’s ongoing protests.

UPDATE: You can still call it CHAZ if you like but the name that the community has chosen is CHOP — the Capitol Hill Organized Protest. “We are not trying to secede from the United States,” speaker Maurice Cola said Saturday afternoon.

Broadmoor served as a perfect foil for what these protesters said they wanted to do Friday; mobilize affluent white people with power to spur change that would benefit Black people. While passing, they chanted “Out of your homes and into the streets” to the couple dozen people standing on the sidewalk outside the community’s entrance.

Organizer and Seattle Peoples Party leader Nikkita Oliver highlighted the female organizers of the protest and repeated demands that the Seattle Police Department be defunded by 50%, spending increased on community-based organizations, and the protesters not be prosecuted.

She said that city leaders would try to offer some piecemeal changes to protesters, but urged demonstrators to stay in the streets until the system is overhauled.

“[Mayor Jenny Durkan] is going to try to find $100 million somewhere in the budget for 10 years to give to community, but it’s not going to be $100 million from the police,” Oliver said. “That means we have not won yet. Let’s be committed; let’s make this more than a moment. People have sacrificed things in the last 10 days; people have sacrificed things in the last 10 years; people have sacrificed things in the last 100, 200, 300 years and are tired of our powerful moments not making into a movement. It’s because we give into accepting reform.”

“Reform feels easy, but it’s not. Reform is bullshit.”

The crowd of thousands was one of two huge marches across Seattle Friday. As this group headed for Madison Park and the beach, an even larger “silent” march stretched out for blocks and blocks from the Central District to Beacon Hill. Continue reading

At center of Capitol Hill protest zone and on the edge of Seattle movement’s goals, debate begins on future of the East Precinct

There are many leaders at work inside the camp and protest zone that has formed around the emptied East Precinct on Capitol Hill. One, District 3 representatives on the city council Kshama Sawant, says she has a plan for the two-story building’s 62,000 square feet of space including some 20,000 square feet of parking.

In a message to her social media followers Thursday night, the senior member of the Seattle City Council said her office is preparing legislation that would remove the building from Seattle Police Department control and turn the 94-year-old structure into a community center for restorative justice.

“The process for deciding East Precinct conversion must include those involved in CHAZ, black community organizations, restorative justice, faith, anti-racist, renter (organizations), land trusts, groups, (and) labor unions that have a proven record of fighting racism,” Sawant writes.

But in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, no political path is certain.

Protestors have gathered in the CHAZ at the intersection of Pine and 12th since Monday night, when police boarded up the precinct, cleared out of the area and re-opened surrounding streets after a week of standoffs and violent police crowd control. Protestors are now trying to figure out what next steps to take, especially after reports that some officers came back inside the building and Chief Best announced that the SPD is making plans to return.

Thursday afternoon the protestors surrounding the precinct, self-described as a “decentralized movement,” broke off into three groups with pens and paper out to discuss organizing tactics going forward, long term goals and a “vibe check.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone updates: Friday actions for ‘a new generation’ and a general strike, and yes, CHAZ does, indeed, attract the worst kind of people (Tim Eyman)

(Image: Andrew Jacob Media / @meadedawg with permission to CHS)

With reporting by Lena Friedman

After weeks of holding back on protests due to concerns about the impact of COVID-19 in its communities, the Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County chapter has called for a general strike Friday and will mark the day with a silent march across the Central District. Friday will also bring an event of a different flavor as leaders including Nikkita Oliver lead a march to Madison Park Beach for the Engage: Part One rally. Meanwhile, another youth march full of loud enthusiasm crossed Capitol Hill Wednesday as organizers continued to grow and improve the protest zone around 12th and Pine.

Friday, June 12th, the BLM chapter is asking people across the state to step away from work and “spend their time and energy on direct action for lasting structural change” —

If you can’t march, take this time as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with your local elected officials. This includes your mayor, city council, county executive, county council, county prosecutor, and state representatives. It helps if you collaborate with friends and neighbors, and reach out to people you know who are more familiar with the local issues. It’s up to you to make sure your local officials feel the pressure to improve police accountability and dismantle the structural racism that has been built into all of our institutions.

The planned silent march, meanwhile, will begin gathering at Judkins Park around 1 PM with plans to step off for Jefferson Park at 2 PM. The group is asking participants to maintain silence during the procession and not to initiate chanting or booing. “We encourage you to bring signs and other visual ways of making your voices heard during the protest,” they write.

Organizers are also hoping people will march in groups with friends or members of their households and try to maintain six-foot distance with others to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Please wear a mask. You can learn more at blacklivesseattle.org.

Things were louder Wednesday as hundreds of young protesters marched from Volunteer Park across Capitol Hill to rally outside the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct. Continue reading

Seattle Police Chief speaks out on CHAZ: ‘Leaving the precinct was not my decision’

SPD tours the emptied East Precinct (Image: Matt Mitgang)

SPD tours the emptied East Precinct (Image: Matt Mitgang)

In a video message posted Thursday she says was prepared for her rank and file officers, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best backed away from the show of unity she has held with Mayor Jenny Durkan over the course of two weeks of anti-police protests here to express her anger in the decision to empty the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine.

“The decision to board up the precinct — our precinct, our home, the first precinct I worked in — was something I was holding off,” Best says in the three and a half minute video, addressing officers. “You should know, leaving the precinct was not my decision.”

Meanwhile, the chief and top SPD brass visited the building Thursday morning for a tour and to assess damage of the graffiti-covered but still very much standing building. Above her, the station’s sign has been spray painted to read “Seattle PEOPLE Department East Precinct.”

As they toured inside, a crowd of neighbors, media, and protesters gathered in hopes of learning more about the fate of the building. Continue reading

Sawant and protesters — briefly — occupy Seattle City Hall as Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone grows — UPDATE

Several hundred demonstrators, led by Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, occupied City Hall downtown Tuesday night for just over an hour, calling for the resignation of Mayor Jenny Durkan and the defunding of the Seattle Police Department after a march from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

Protesters entered chanting “Whose City Hall? Our City Hall” before listening to a number of speakers at the “people’s mic,” as Sawant called it, on a range of issues, from the importance of Black LGBTQIA+ women in recent protests to taxing the council member’s familiar foe.

“It is about building the kind of political representation that brings the voice of the people into the halls of power and grabs power for ordinary people,” Sawant said. Starting Wednesday, “the City Council is going to be discussing budget issues, meaning two very important demands for us: Defund SPD and Tax Amazon.”

Many protesters also stayed behind to maintain a presence in the zone around 12th and Pine. Others spoke out saying the community, not politicians, should drive decisions around the camp growing outside the large police precinct emptied of equipment and boarded with plywood. So far, the boards have remained in place.

Continue reading

Pride 2020 on Capitol Hill: Black Queer Lives Matter

According to Joey Burgess, owner of 11th Ave’s Queer/Bar, Pride is taking a different yet necessary shape this year as Seattle protests centered on Capitol Hill press on.

“We typically do giant three-day outdoor celebrations with huge street parties. All of that is gone this year, but we have a different type of outside event and that’s the protests — that is what Pride looks like this year and should,” Burgess said.

Although the Seattle LGBTQ Commission’s kickoff Pride Flag raising event at City Hall was postponed, June 1st marked the beginning of Pride — a time that has filled Capitol Hill with celebration for nearly half a century. Celebrations will hold a different tone this year as LGBTQ organizations plan virtual events in the midst of local and global protesting against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, protests that have maintained a strong presence in Capitol Hill for almost two weeks now.

“Our announcement has been delayed because we’re standing in solidarity with the protestors now, and so we don’t want to step on any of the protests and the actions that are happening,” Seattle PrideFest executive director Egan Orion tells CHS. Continue reading

‘Welcome to Free Capitol Hill’ — Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone forms around emptied East Precinct — UPDATE

Protesters have made their own riot shields emblazoned with the pink umbrellas that have become a symbol of the demonstrations

With reporting by Jake Goldstein-Street and Alex Garland

The first night in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that has formed in the wake of police giving up the week-long blockade of the East Precinct was rainy and peaceful and full of speeches from activists, agitators, poets, and socialist city council members.

“I guess whatever the fuck we’re doing is effective,” one organizer identified as Magik said over a megaphone early in the night as police were still clearing the area. “They are going to move up. They are going to get everybody out of here and we are free to move through these streets and protest and march.”

“Yesterday we were on 11th and Pine. Today we have victory on 12th and Pine. They tried to stop us!,” another exclaimed.

The night brought tense moments but compared to the previous week of blast balls and clouds of gas and pepper spray, Pike/Pine was calm if not quiet — the county sheriff’s helicopter stayed circling overhead until midnight providing observations to SPD command on the ground and often drowning out speeches below. The only major reported conflict came when a TV news crew for the local Fox affiliate was temporarily chased from the scene and took up refuge in the nearby fire station.

The surprise pullback of SPD riot police and National Guard troops came together quickly Monday afternoon after a day of hastily clearing out equipment, moving trucks, and reports of a “mobile shredding unit” at the building at 12th and Pine that is home to the East Precinct headquarters as well as department office facilities. “The decision has been made to allow demonstrators to march past the East Precinct later today,” an announcement sent to department staff about the decision to close the building read. “Additional measures are currently underway to enhance our ongoing efforts to insure the security of our East Precinct and provide for the safety of all our officers.”

“The East Precinct will remain staffed,” the announcement concluded. CHS observed officers being dispatched from mobile locations away from 12th and Pine. The building is empty and windows covered with plywood. By morning, the wood was covered with graffiti giving the precinct an unexpected continuity with much of the rest of the neighborhood as many businesses are still in the process of reopening after weeks of COVID-19 restrictions.

The pullback and boarding-up of the precinct follows a Sunday night conflagration described by many as the most aggressive show of crowd control firepower yet by SPD that came only hours after a Mayor Jenny Durkan speech on deescalation.

Monday night, Durkan remained silent on the developments at the precinct until late into the night. Continue reading