- Protesters in Seattle, Washington, took over part of the city on Monday, dubbing it an “autonomous zone” that’s free of police.
- Police left the area, including a building that was the scene of their clashes with protesters.
- The area is being used to organise and to create art, and has started replicating local services like garbage-collection.
- President Donald Trump has railed against it, terming the protesters “domestic terrorists” and threatening to intervene to reclaim the area.
- Here are photos and videos that show what the area is like.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Black Lives Matter and anti-police-brutality protesters have taken over part of Seattle, Washington, creating an “autonomous zone” free of police presence.
On Wednesday the zone caught the attention of President Donald Trump, who attacked the protesters and threatened that he could ultimately intervene.
As Insider’s Isaac Scher reported, the area has become a space for community organising, art-making, and other community-building efforts.
The area of several city blocks includes Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct and parts of the Capitol Hill neighbourhood.
It was the scene for clashes between police and protesters during the ongoing demonstrations against police brutality.
The protests, which are taking place across the US, were sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Police boarded up and left the area on Monday, and protesters are now aiming to use the area to demonstrate how the community can operate without a police presence.
Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. 6 blocks retaken back for the people. “You are now leaving the USA” when you enter. Long live the fucking revolution. ✊???? pic.twitter.com/xgFVjA33mx
— Armani (@historyofarmani) June 9, 2020
One occupant told Insider: “It has symbolic meaning that once the police withdraw, it’s not that communities descend into chaos, but that we can create safe, democratic, autonomous spaces.”
He described it as a “testament to the claims around abolition currently that maybe we don’t need these violent police forces in our community.”
The New York Times reported that “hundreds” have gathered in the area, and said that it has the tacit blessing of the city.
The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, which is being called CHAZ for short, is distributing food and has started a garbage-collection program.
Good morning to the Seattle Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone! ????☕️✊ pic.twitter.com/6UTD8FSv1y
— ???? Black Rose/Rosa Negra ⚫️ (@BRRN_Fed) June 9, 2020
Some protesters have produced a list of demands, which include:
- The abolition of the Seattle Police Department.
- An end to police violence, including that the “use of armed force be banned entirely” and “especially against those exercising their First Amendment right as Americans to protest.”
- An overhaul of the state public school curriculum, with a greater focus on the history of Black and Native Americans in the US.
- The “de-gentrification” of Seattle.
- The increased hiring of Black healthcare workers.
Other demands have been posted elsewhere.
Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s mayor, said on Tuesday that several fire department vehicles are stationed nearby in case they are needed: “Keeping this area safe is critical, as there are approximately 500 residential homes in this block.”
Seattle lawmakers called on Durkan and the city’s police chief to “take urgent and sustained action to de-escalate the police tactics used in daily protests.”
They accused the accused the police of escalating the situation by using “inappropriate” tactics.
They said the city needed to “end the damage that [the police] has caused by overreaction to mostly peaceful protests” and said police action had inflicted “physical violence, “emotional trauma,” and “extraordinary racial aggression” on people in the city, as well as risking protesters’ constitutional rights.
This was Seattle last night, after Seattle PD abandoned what's being called the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone."
Without police, the zone has turned into a peaceful George Floyd memorial filled with art, positivity & love.
Let this be a reminder– police are the real instigators. https://t.co/RXGzvG2TH1
— CODEPINK (@codepink) June 9, 2020
Their statement comes as protesters increasingly call for steps to “defund the police” by reducing its budget and increasing funding to education, community, and mental health programs.
But the area has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday told the city’s mayor and Washington’s governor to “Take back your city NOW” and warned “If you don’t do it, I will.”
In a second tweet, he wrote: “Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle, run by Radical Left Democrats, of course. LAW & ORDER!”
In response, Washington Governor Jay Inslee told Trump to stop tweeting and stay out of Washington’s business.
Durkan tweeted at Trump to “Go back to your bunker,” referencing reports that Trump and his family rushed to a secure White House bunker after several protesters breached the barricades near the White House lawn at the end of May.
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) June 11, 2020
Pramila Jayapal, a Washington Congresswoman, asked: “Don’t you have a bunker to be in?”
Don’t you have a bunker to be in? https://t.co/pywCiDfCml
— Rep. Pramila Jayapal (@RepJayapal) June 11, 2020
Trump has defended the police against allegations of brutality during the protests, and has resisted calls for police defunding.