in a new Op-Ed for the NY Post, journalist Any Ngo describes his undercover stay inside Seattle’s cop-free autonomous zone.
By Andy Ngo – NY Post
On June 8, Seattle police frantically loaded what they could from the east precinct onto trucks and cars. Within hours, they boarded up and abandoned the station. That night, left-wing protesters from Black Lives Matter and Antifa declared ownership of the six-block neighborhood in the middle of the Pacific Northwest’s largest city. They named their new territory the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or CHAZ. No laws or rules applied here except for one: “No cops allowed.”
During five undercover days and nights in the zone, I witnessed a continuing experiment in anarchy, chaos and brute-force criminality. In order to avoid being exposed as a journalist — several reporters have been barred or expelled — I slept and showered outside the zone. (Those inside have no showers but they do have portable bathrooms.) I took meals, and most of my water breaks, elsewhere because I was reluctant to remove my mask and risk being recognized. Every day I entered the zone twice through its semi-porous borders — once in the early afternoon, and again after sundown, staying until the wee hours.
Crime has surged inside and outside the zone.
On Saturday morning, a shooting erupted that left at least one person dead and another injured near a border checkpoint. Police were reportedly met with resistance when they tried to get to the victims, who apparently were then taken in private cars to the hospital. Cops made it into the zone to gather shell casings and evidence, some reports said, as police in riot gear stood at the border.
On Thursday, police arrested Robert James after he left the CHAZ. He is accused of sexually assaulting a deaf woman who was lured inside a tent. The same day, former city council candidate Isaiah Willoughby was arrested on suspicion of starting the arson attack on the East Precinct June 8.
Police Chief Carmen Best has stated that police response times to 911 calls in the surrounding area have “more than tripled” because they are down a station.
“Emergency calls, which often means somebody’s being assaulted, sometimes it’s a rape, sometimes it’s a robbery, but something bad is happening if it’s a top priority call, and we’re not able to get there,” she has said.
Various “Occupy”-type protests have occurred across the US since the original occupation near Wall Street in 2011. But CHAZ is nothing like the mostly peaceful tent city in privately-owned Zuccotti Park that was corralled and closely monitored by the NYPD.
CHAZ occupants, ranging from several hundred to 10,000 depending on the day, with many openly armed, control all of the Capitol Hill neighborhood near downtown. The neighborhood is the heart of Seattle’s gay and counter-culture district, and is densely filled with businesses and apartment buildings. CHAZ now claims all of it.
Before the takeover, violent clashes between rioters and police defending the east precinct resulted in dozens of officers injured by rocks and other projectiles. Protesters and rioters complained of police brutality, leading Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Chief Best to ban cops from using tear gas, pepper spray and flash-bangs for 30 days.
CHAZ is having reverberating effects elsewhere. In the early hours of Thursday morning, Antifa and other left-wing protesters established an “autonomous zone” in downtown Portland, Ore. They stole city and business property to build a wall. At least one protester was seen carrying a rifle. The area was later cleared by police but far-left activists are determined to try again. Protesters in Nashville and other cities have attempted to recreate their own “autonomous zones” modeled after CHAZ but have so far been stopped by law enforcement.
In Seattle, as soon as police evacuated from the station nearly two weeks ago, masked protesters stole city property — barricades, fencing and more — to create makeshift barriers. These barriers became the official border checkpoints in and out of CHAZ. They were later fortified with additional layers of security: more blockades and 24-hour guards.
A large team of volunteers assembled to designate themselves “security” for CHAZ. Many of them wear patches signaling they’re part of the Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club, a far-left militia-type organization named after the radical abolitionist. Last year, one of the group’s members carried out an armed attack on an Immigration, Customs and Enforcement facility in Tacoma, Wash. Police said that Willem van Spronsen tried to ignite the 500-gallon propane tank attached to the facility. He was killed by police.
Despite the group’s link to violent extremism, its armed members were celebrated in the CHAZ for “protecting” the new denizens. The head of CHAZ’s security is a short female named “Creature.” She and the rest of her team communicate with walkie-talkie devices and earpieces. Some of them openly carry rifles, handguns, batons or knives. Their operating base is in the open-air eating section of the Ranchos Tacos Mexican restaurant. Signs posted all over their base declares: “NO PHOTOS. NO VIDEOS.” Another sign lists Venmo names for donations.
Though CHAZ claims to have no rules, it quickly developed a complex code of conduct that varied from zone to zone and even the time of the day. For example, those in the garden area, who are mostly white, need to make sure they do not “recolonize” the space.
Read more here.