A deal with … whom, exactly? Raz Simone, the alleged “warlord” of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone? People’s Party politician Nikkita Oliver? “I’m not the leader,” she told KOMO this morning, which leaves Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and police chief Carmen Best with no one to discuss disbanding the CHAZ. And that’s precisely what they want:
City officials are trying to quickly broker a deal but because there is no centralized leadership among protesters, getting all the voices at the table remains a challenge.
Nikkita Oliver is a community activist with a long history in Seattle. She showed up to the East Precinct Thursday to lend her support to protesters.
She said she has no idea when marchers will actually leave.
“I’m not the leader,” Oliver said. “So I can’t answer a question I’m not making the decisions on.”
David Lewis, who co-led some of the earlier marches from West Lake Park, said the next move is unclear.
“Every single person here has their own mission,” Lewis said.
That does make it a wee bit difficult to negotiate, but it’s a dodge to some extent, too. Perhaps a too-aggressive assertion of leadership would create a fracture and collapse within CHAZ, but at the very least, the people with credible threat of force are running the show. That includes armed activists as well as those with the ability to whip up mob action, as seen in Julio Rosas’ video of the forced ejection of a young man from CHAZ yesterday.
The lack of centralized leadership makes it difficult to get any coherent list of demands, too. Those run from a list of five to 30 or more demands, each more outrageous than the last:
According to the movement’s demands, people of color who are still serving sentences for violent crimes must be given a retrial, and all prisoners must be given the full and unrestricted right to vote. …
Other Free Capitol Hill demands include reforms to education that increase the focus on black and Native American history, free college, and reallocating funds from the Seattle Police Department to socialized health and medicine, free public housing, public education and naturalization services. …
Along with major changes to the criminal justice system, the Free Capitol Hill movement’s list of demands call for Seattle hospital and health care facilities to employ black doctors and nurses to help care for black patients. In addition to the creation of a more diversified workforce, studies show increased positive health outcomes for black patients who are treated by black doctors.
So … yay, segregation? Good Lord. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose …
Another difficulty in negotiating would be leaders who don’t mind ceding five blocks of the city to anarchy. Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant, last seen pushing the city’s abortive “head tax” on corporations like Amazon, would prefer to see Durkan and Best simply surrender to the CHAZ mob as a “victory” for community control:
As the Seattle Police Department works to broker a deal with protesters occupying an autonomous zone in the heart of Capitol Hill, a Seattle City Councilmember said the area known as “CHAZ” should remain in community control permanently.
The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, known as “CHAZ,” has been in community control since Tuesday, when Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best decreased the officers’ presence in the East Precinct to allow for peaceful protests.
Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant called the “CHAZ” movement a major victory. She said the area should be turned over permanently into community control, instead of back in the hands of the Seattle Police Department.
To call this nonsense is hardly strong enough. Seattle and this five-block area has been under “community control” for as long as its democratically elected government has existed. Sawant sits on the very body that controls Seattle, including its policing, and has all the authority and jurisdiction it needs to regulate it. CHAZ isn’t “community control,” it’s mob rule. It’s insane to conflate the two under any circumstances, but to have a city council member do so reflects the long-standing idiocy of the people who elected Sawant to that position.
Don’t expect the mob to give up its rule willingly, either. Most if not all of their demands are non-starters either legally, politically, or both. The longer it takes, the more likely that serious violence will start to break out — and then Durkan and Gov. Jay Inslee will have to decide whether they will impose order, or whether Donald Trump will.
Update: Time is running out for retaking the precinct, KOMO reports today, as 911 call response times are too long without the police precinct base:
Not to mention the ticking Trump timer…