So, after over a month of drama, the BLM/George Floyd/CHAZ-CHOP Saga seems to be heading into a new and perhaps penultimate chapter.
It all began last month after the Seattle Police Department and the city of Seattle deliberately herded the Black Lives Matter/George Floyd Murder protests to Capitol Hill in order to keep the protesters away from more valuable downtown properties and from the city’s seat of power. The Powers That Be didn’t care for the optics of the first major demonstration that happened in downtown on Saturday, May 30th protesting the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Minnesota Police Department officers on May 25th. The images of cop cars on fire and of children being tear gassed filling our digital screens didn’t look good…it reflected poorly on our city and more importantly, on downtown property values. After all, you want to keep big downtown property owners happy and the optics of angry protests in front of your City Hall/Courthouse/Old Navy is one you want to avoid.
Cut to: a neighborhood like Capitol Hill which is, after all, just a ‘hood full of dumb hippies and drunk homosexuals conveniently adjacent to downtown….plus they figured it would be easier to maintain the crowds right by the neighborhood’s East Precinct house at 12th and Pine Street. It would be a breeze to let the gay ole hippies have their little protest for a day or two then they would eventually get bored/tired and head home and the City/SPD would smugly prevail with things back to the normal way of things: a corrupt and aggressive police department full of racist militaristic storm troopers going about with their usual daily tasks of not doing much of anything but being very well paid for it.
But, things didn’t go like they hoped. The hippy dippy, faggy waggy crowds didn’t go away and due to abysmal yet high handed leadership from Mayor Jenny Durkan and Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, things escalated and the protesters stubbornly held out and made a stand for several violence filled days. Much of the violence came as a result of bad decision making on the part of Durkan and Best who allowed the use of chemical weaponry which enraged much of the city since it was all captured on digital video by dozens of citizen journalists. So, the optics were awful and the city finally panicked and eventually pulled out, in every sense of the word, including oddly vacating the actual police precinct building and stomping off in a big huff. Their retreat seemed to indicate a message of: “We’ll show you! We’re abandoning the neighborhood and after you burn down the precinct house and chaos reigns, we’ll waltz back in to save the day and people will LOVE us again and more importantly, FUND us again!”
(cue evil laughter)
Only, that didn’t happen. The triumphant protesters declared victory and created an advocacy space on the streets surrounding the East Precinct and declared it “The CHAZ” for Capitol Hill Automonous Zone (which then confusedly got changed to “CHOP” for Capitol Hill Organized Protest). The mood was celebratory by day but sometimes problematic over night. Yes, there was chaos and violence mostly done by outside forces but some of that chaos was actually caused by the city’s refusal to actually continue doing their jobs. The City/SPD encouraged the “bad stuff” by refusing to do any policing at all in the areas immediately adjacent to the official CHOP protest area. Mayor Durkan wobbled about being ineffectual and contradictory with her statements while Chief Best just out right LIED about things that weren’t based in fact (“mobs are extorting money from local businesses!” “there are rapes and murders and crime on every corner!!”) Many of those tall tales ended up being “leaked” to Fox News to encourage Establishment outrage at the atrocities being committed by evil Leftists/Anarchist/Antifas in hippie commie Seattle!
And, still the protest continued while Durkan refused to address any of the issues or demands (about defunding the police/the end of police brutality on the Black/POC community) and instead focused on more important things…like feuding with Kshama Sawant, the Seattle City Councilperson who represents the district that has been most affected by the city’s original plan to force the protests to happen on Capitol Hill and not downtown. How dare she support the protests and stand up for the people who live IN her district!?! How dare she take the protests BACK to City Hall (where they belonged in the first place)!?! How dare she protest at the Mayor’s house!?!? How dare she not toe the line?!?!?
Meanwhile, as the days passed, the occupied zone started to clear out with most of the senior members of the protest realizing it’s time to move on to other forms of advocacy while a few hardcore types remain but the city was anxious to wrap this mess up and decides it’s time to show the stragglers the door by a ham handed draconian power sweep of what’s left of the occupiers in the CHAZ/CHOP area…naturally done in the wee hours of the morning earlier today to avoid cameras, press and counter protesters.
The City/SPD is hoping this makes them look powerful and commanding (you know they’re going to start moving back into the East Precinct as soon as possible) but the reality is, the entire situation has been ineptly and foolishly handled from the very beginning. Seattle and its mostly Democratic political structure pride themselves on a false sense of being “liberal” and strong but caring “progressive” leaders but the City and the SPD’s behavior and bad leadership rival the much maligned power structure we currently have in Washington D.C. Because, let’s face it…Mayor Durkan and Chief Best are just local versions of Donald Trump and William Barr; ineffectual bullies flailing in the winds of change. Ironically, they all faced their political Waterloos on their respective “Capitol Hills” and all are ultimately doomed because they refuse to make the changes that need to be made. They refuse to LISTEN to the people.
They ALL need to go.