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)
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.”
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.
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