Rantz: CHOP Seattle is very clearly not a peaceful utopia but maybe it can be
CHOP is not a peaceful, social justice utopia where Antifa, anarchists, and community organizers come together for meaningful discussions on policy. It’s a cop-free zone of fringe ideologues, well-intended activists, and tourists looking to be part of something that unfortunately is becoming a something to parody.
It’s peaceful, until it’s not. Suggesting otherwise is willful ignorance.
Some media outlets spin yarn about CHOP, the Capitol Hill Occupying Protest. They’ll have you believe it’s “a homeland for racial justice” and that businesses simply adore being in the CHOP zone so they can take part in the activism. Indeed, it’s just like a street fair or block party.
That the CHOP is wholly peaceful is demonstrably false. So why are some claiming that?
The peaceful CHOP lie
There are some outlets that want you to believe CHOP is peaceful because they simply want it to be.
The CHOP is a symbol of what progressive journalists and activists hope can pop up nationwide: safe spaces for exclusively-progressive organizing; areas where you truly don’t need the police. Aspirations are fine, we all have them. I certainly want CHOP to be as peaceful as the recent marches in Seattle have been. Reporting what you aspire CHOP to be, however, is dishonest.
As I wrote in the National Review, you don’t get assaulted the moment you step foot in the CHOP. And CHOP in mid-June is much different than CHAZ of last week (indeed, it’s even changed its name!).
But you earn ire and harassment if you dare disagree publicly with one of the resident’s many fringe beliefs. You have no First Amendment rights in the CHOP. And you know that cops aren’t entering the area, which makes tense situations potentially more dangerous. And yes, there’s frequent violence. Don’t forget: CHOP (then CHAZ) was created out of violence.
Acknowledging the dangers of CHOP doesn’t mean you can’t aspire for it to be that utopia you pretend it is. And being honest about what’s happening doesn’t betray any cause. It’s just honesty. And isn’t it in the city’s best interest — CHOP’s best interest — to acknowledge the problem and address it? Or is the fear that the answer to the problem may be that cops are, in fact, necessary?
The violence on video
There’s plenty of evidence that CHOP has had its fair share of violent skirmishes. Fights routinely break out. There are plenty accusations of theft, too, and if you’re not honest with their police force (either the militant Antifa group John Brown Gun Club or heavily armed security with other groups within CHOP), you stand the chance of being beaten.
And if you’re a business in or near the zone, you’re not guaranteed any kind of protection. Ask the owners of Car Tender, just about 2 blocks away from the CHOP. Their business was allegedly hit by an arsonist before a mob of protesters came by to defend the criminals instead of the shop owner.
My takes aren’t theories or guesses. They’re not even based on inside sources so deep undercover I can’t show you the intel. It’s quite literally recorded.
(Warning: videos contain graphic language and are NSFW)
A fight broke out at CHAZ.
There are security/activists here who try to block all the videos so we can’t film. You can see the guy in blue constantly bump into me.
Meanwhile, some media outlets pretend none of this is happening. pic.twitter.com/rUB8T8Gm9L
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) June 13, 2020
A huge mob just attacked "Small Tender" business demanding a release of man who went into the business and started a fire, the business is located inside the 6 blocks of #CHAZ a 'no-cop zone'. Reporting on the ground in #Seattle pic.twitter.com/GeTRheQXFo
— Jorge Ventura Media (@VenturaReport) June 15, 2020
This part was actually pretty scary. The individual came VERY close to grabbing the other guy’s gun. Managed to pull the holster loose.
Could have ended very badly had he gotten the gun. Multiple people in the fight were armed. pic.twitter.com/vihc8K5PM8
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 16, 2020
My latest report from the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone“: Things are getting dangerous for people who are accused of wrongdoing. In one instance, an accused thief was surrounded by a crowd and interrogated, with one person brandishing a bat in his face. https://t.co/NkGWiUXmfa pic.twitter.com/dVLJvTbStG
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) June 11, 2020
Dodgeball was put on hold after a scuffle broke out. pic.twitter.com/z6JQH1AZSb
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) June 13, 2020
Another tense scene right outside the boundary of the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone” where people are getting into a confrontation, not sure why. I was asked to not record the incident by someone. pic.twitter.com/qz66fEYyZT
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) June 13, 2020
.@Julio_Rosas11 is still covering the madness for us in Seattle, straight from the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone." Read his latest ->https://t.co/yCGSvfLYCO #Seattle #SeattleAutonomousZone
— Cortney O'Brien (@obrienc2) June 11, 2020
A fire broke out on the side of the Seattle East Precinct last night in the “autonomous zone.” Video: Raz Simone #antifa #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/1CNECcrY66 pic.twitter.com/jH6Qeso52m
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 14, 2020
Crowd just aggressively pushed out the group holding the flags. Battle over the flag as some people tried to pry the American flag down.
The group holding the flags was chased out of CHAZ and down a few blocks before leaving in a car. pic.twitter.com/vS5oYlwcx2
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 14, 2020
Is CHOP a gun-free zone?
The other claim that feels like it’s getting traction is that there are few guns in the CHOP. Armed security? They don’t exist, people claim. To be fair, this isn’t a big misconception yet. But I see enough tweets making the claim (or downplaying the guns-at-CHOP reality) that it deserves addressing.
There are tons of video and photos of people with guns. Oh, and the security groups are literally on record saying they carry.
“It’s not our intent to try to create any paradox to try to incite violence or have that be a motif,” activist Maurice Cola told KIRO Radio’s Nicole Jennings. “We’re not trying to use our guns to flash around — it’s for defense.”
Big dude with a pretty big looking gun. Don’t know much about guns, anyone know what kind this is? pic.twitter.com/O3nsXJ0ibB
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 15, 2020
People are armed and tensions are escalating pic.twitter.com/09yhk48Ad0
— Richie🎥McG🍿 (@RichieMcGinniss) June 16, 2020
Here too pic.twitter.com/wRRnY7I6pe
— Brian (@DaLuke) June 14, 2020
One guy manning an entry point at CHAZ now carries his Desert Eagle .50 after he says he was assaulted with a vehicle pic.twitter.com/YLdgQFGKlv
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) June 13, 2020
So now what?
Where do we go from here?
How about when discussing CHOP, we do it with facts rather than hopes? If you want to joke about it, have at it. Some activists make it easy to turn it into a satire (which is what we’ve been doing on Tucker Carlson Tonight).
But if you want CHOP to be something it’s not, why not put in the effort to make it less violent? While I’m never going to back the fringe idea of either abolishing police or cutting the budget by 50%, which is as dangerous as it is absurd, I don’t see the harm in creating an open space for community organizing in the general area. It would, however, actually have to be open to all ideologies.
You can’t will the violence away. How do I know? An organizer literally asked the audience to will away the violent instigator who disrupted her speech. It didn’t work.
Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook.
- Tune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.