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CHOP, Phoenix Jones
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Phoenix Jones supports CHOP, but says ‘you can’t just not enforce laws’

People listen to protesters as they speak in an intersection in the police-free zone known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) on June 15, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

It took an autonomous zone being set up in the heart of Capitol Hill to get Seattle’s own superhero, Phoenix Jones, out of retirement. Jones spent the last few days patrolling the area near the East Precinct that’s been occupied by protesters, now referred to as CHOP.

He hopes to help bring the city together with the protesters, but is finding that it may be difficult.

“It’s been incredibly challenging because the black lives matter movement is like a blanket word, right? Black lives matter, obviously, everyone agrees with that, but there’s a lot of other stuff in there that’s kind of weird,” Jones said about the zone. “And then there’s the antifa angle and all these other different things. But no matter what that is, taking over six city blocks is just illegal.”

“Second, the idea is a good idea that needs to be pushed in America,” Jones added, referring to the movement. “So I’m very conflicted.”

On the first night Jones visited CHOP, he said he had a good time, met a bunch of people, and described it kind of like a “festival.” But that wasn’t the case the following night.

“So the last night we’re out there, and I’m actually giving an interview,” Jones said, “while we’re talking about how peaceful it is here, someone runs up and is like, ‘someone just broke in to a building.'”

By the time Jones got there, the person had been detained.

“All the sudden, you hear this screaming and it’s like 150 people coming up the street,” Jones said. “And the owner of the place is just like, ‘get this dude out of here.'”

He said it was strange to be escorting a man away who had just broke in to a place, threatening to steal from the business and burn it down, to avoid the mob of people.

Jones also said when people start to do citizen crime prevention, there’s a learning curve. He understands the feelings of wanting to chase down every bad guy.

“You just have to realize certain things put people in danger, are ineffective, and are really just for your own ego,” he said. “I was lucky that no one knew who I was the first year of Phoenix Jones-ing, and I got to learn that in private.”

Jones also admits a difference between him and the majority of people in CHOP is that he, as a general concept, thinks law enforcement is a good idea.

“The law enforcement problem is, for me, that law enforcement should be a business that is run by people who want to make a change in this country,” Jones said. “But instead it’s like a family, and you do a lot to cover up things your family does, if your family does something wrong, because you love them.”

“Being motivated by someone attacking your family is a hard way to find any common ground from anywhere,” he added.

While he agrees with a lot of the points and demands of the black lives matter protests, he’s not on board with taking over six blocks and removing all enforcement or police service in the area.

“I’m totally down with taking over Cal Anderson Park and making sure the precinct [isn’t open], that’s fine,” he said. “But you can’t just not enforce laws.”

“You guys decided because a whole bunch of citizens are sitting in one area, that … you’re going to let them tell you that you can’t help other citizens in trouble,” Jones added.

Jones also thinks it’s wrong to portray CHOP as an entirely peaceful utopia, or the “summer of love” as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said, in the same way it’s wrong to refer to it as a war zone.

Rantz: CHOP Seattle is very clearly not a peaceful utopia but maybe it can be

There is an aspect of freedom, though, that Jones says comes from having the block barricaded off and the precinct closed down. This, he explained, makes it feel like the police aren’t coming for you.

“I’m just saying the reason we’re seeing people act that way in there is because they’re feeling free. That’s also why you’re seeing the crime. That’s also why you’re seeing the lack of protest,” he said.

Overall, Jones said he thinks the city of Seattle and local leaders have failed the people of Capitol Hill.

“As far as I’m concerned, people needed help last night. I put on my suit and I did it cause that’s the right thing to do,” he said.

So how does Jones think this all ends? Unfortunately, not well.

“This does not end well because there’s not a centralized group to talk to in the protest. I think they want to help, I think they want to avoid violence, but there’s no one to talk to,” Jones said. “So eventually the police are going to have to go and shut it down. And they’re going to look really bad when they do it. And it’s going to be a big clash.”

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.

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