In Seattle, something strange is happening, and even those intimately involved don’t seem to have a full grasp on the proceedings.
After protesters in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle forced the retreat of the city’s 13th police precinct, a number of demonstrators barricaded off about six blocks and declared the area “autonomous” from the United States. This was the beginning of the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone”, (or “CHAZ”), that sparked a great deal of debate online.
Now, after nearly a weeks of near-constant evolution, the “CHAZ” is now becoming the “CHOP”, and protesters are working to push back against the stereotype that they are some sort of secessionist sect.
In the six blocks seized by Seattle protesters, there was plenty of confusion this weekend as some seek to change the name of the self-proclaimed Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone to Capitol Hill Organized (or Occupied) Protest.
“This is not an autonomous zone. We are not trying to secede from the United States,” one protester, Maurice Cola, said Saturday afternoon in a video interview circulating on Twitter.
Some sidewalks showed chalk lettering featuring the new CHOP branding.
A group of people entered the perimeter Saturday carrying large American flags. A melee broke out and some protesters occupying the zone tried to rip the flags from their hands.
It was not clear what group those carrying the flags were affiliated with, but some in the crowd accused them of being white supremacists or members of the Proud Boys, a far-right group.
The area formerly known as “CHAZ” was a sore spot in American politics this week, after President Trump threatened to use federal powers to tamp down this alleged rebellion. Both Seattles’ Mayor and Washington Governor Jay Inslee pushed back against the Commander in Chief’s suggestion, however.
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