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. Continue reading

With Seattle Police staying out of the Capitol Hill protest zone, the camp, neighbors, and businesses struggling to solve public safety issues

Why are you here?, painted on the street at the protest zoneSeattle’s third week of protest against police brutality and racial bias started with tens of thousands of marchers and a Capitol Hill protest zone celebrating its growing days of speeches and learning, donation and garden projects, volunteer squads including clean-up crews, medics, and security teams, and a Culture Day that filled the area with visits from Indigenous leaders from across the region.

There is a growing roster of met demands and political wins. Monday will bring a day of debate at the Seattle City Council over increased regulation and restriction of police over tactics including chokeholds and tear gas. Continue reading

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

Fernandez charged in Capitol Hill protest shooting

Nikolas Fernandez has been charged with one count of first degree assault after police say he drove into a crowd of protesters on Capitol Hill and shot a man attempting to disarm him.

“Although Mr. Fernandez claims to have acted in self-defense, our laws distinguish a person protecting himself from an attack from a person who provoked the attack in the first place,” a statement from King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg on the case reads.. “Given the evidence uncovered in the past three days, there is probable cause to believe Mr. Fernandez falls in the latter category.” Continue reading