Amid concerns that federal officials could storm an “autonomous zone” that had declared itself a separate nation from the United States, residents of Seattle, Washington’s “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” or “CHAZ” have changed their installation’s name to “CHOP” — the “Capitol Hill Organized Protest.”
“CHAZ” was also facing concerns that it was not fully “autonomous” as its name suggested after reporters documented the “independent” “demonstration” receiving pizza and food deliveries, calling the Seattle Fire Department to report a nearby dumpster on fire, calling Seattle Emergency Services for assistance in several medical emergencies, and having dirt, compost and plants trucked in for their “community garden.”
Organizers, though, indicated their primary concern was an invasion by what would be “foreign” police forces, according to the South Seattle Emerald, and further worries that their list of demands, which included changes to Seattle community services, would fall on deaf ears if they were, in fact, their own country inside Seattle.
“Roughly 10 to 15 informal leaders of the protest in Capitol Hill, including one protestor named Maurice Cola, met on June 13 to create a new name for the area: Capitol Hill Organized Protest or CHOP,” the local outlet reported over the weekend.
One organizer was concerned that “naming the space ‘CHAZ’ implies it is no longer a part of the U.S. That’s problematic, Cola argued, as he fears those in government may defend the use of greater force to remove protestors by calling them occupiers or Antifa.”
The group issued a list of demands last week that includes reparations for people of color from Seattle city coffers, as well as a free college education from Washington state universities, rent control, free health care from Seattle city services, and a full defunding and dismantling of the Seattle police force — demands that can only be made on Seattle by Seattle city residents.
“At the end of the day it can’t be an autonomous zone if we’re still demanding things from the government because that would mean we’re seceding from their establishment entirely,” the organizer told the Emerald. “None of us have denounced our American citizenship and we demand that they pay the fee.”
If they are no longer citizens of the United States, residents also don’t qualify for government social services, like welfare, food stamps, and unemployment, making it difficult to maintain a full-time presence in the Seattle “CHOP” zone.
Over the weekend and late last week, as Seattle’s so-called CHOP filled with protesters, journalists also noticed that the declared “autonomous zone” was autonomous in name only. The CHOP received several pizza deliveries and provided residents with free vegetables trucked in from outside the zone, as well as cans of Rockstar energy drink, soda, and orange juice.
what if we kissed at the CHAZ pizza station 😳 pic.twitter.com/B2Y8yaAapa
— CHAZUpdates (@chaz_updates) June 11, 2020
On Friday, the CHOP established its own community garden using cardboard and scavenged dirt, but after their few meager plants wilted in heat the operation expanded considerably, and an outsider called in drops of what appeared to be potting soil, compost, and professionally grown vegetable starters.
CHAZIMITES seem to be taking advanced societal strides by cultivating the land to provide for their people, the only problem is the amount of produce cannot sustain the population of CHAZ. A major problem that seems to be hard to solve in 2020 for the autonomous nation. pic.twitter.com/Pxhvzgd3Iq
— Drew Hernandez (@livesmattershow) June 15, 2020
They’ve also been taking advantage of Seattle’s city services, calling Seattle’s Fire Department to report a dumpster fire late last week and to attend to several residents who experienced medical emergencies over the weekend.
The residents who were not on the naming council seem fine with the change, gathering Sunday night to compare their demonstration to the start of the French Revolution.
“Does anybody know what happened to the people who did not get on board with the French Revolution?”
“CHOPPED,” the crowd answered. pic.twitter.com/FfyUAvcUhM
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 15, 2020
That strategy did not work out well for the organizers of the French Revolution.
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