welcome to the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

Much has already been reported about the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, aka Free Capitol Hill, or just the CHAZ. I won’t recapitulate any of that; but as I live only four miles south of the abandoned east police precinct, I decided to go down there yesterday to check it out myself. Apparently even as I was there, it was being rebranded CHOP for Capitol Hill Organized Protest. Protest yes, organized somewhat. Here’s what I saw on Saturday June 13th. Click any image to load at hi-res.

Welcome to CHAZ! This is the entrance on 11th between Pike and Pine.

The north end of Cal Anderson Park. Check out the social distancing crop circles!
Lots of tents have popped up between the fountain and the ballpark.
Lots of variety in graffiti and art throughout the CHAZ, including on the portable toilets thoughtfully installed by the Seattle Park Service.
The reporting I’d read about the garden in Cal Anderson did not prepare me for the scale of it! Multiple plots, with nurseries too.
Folks were moving wood chips and gravel around in wheelbarrows. I overheard the two near the truck bed talking about what neighborhoods they were from in the before-times.
A free little library tent along the third base line: ANARCHY REIGNS! Other tents all around the park were receiving food and equipment donations and handing out the same.
Checklists are an early warning sign of terrorism.
The first hints I saw that there might be true crowds here was in waiting in line to ascend the stairs back up to the street level.
The BLM mural along Pine street looks great from street level as well as from aerial drone.
But it is hard to read from down here. Someone thoughtfully titled it along the south of its entire stretch.
Everyday Music had been my go-to shop ever since Sonic Boom closed its Capitol Hill location. But it is not open today!
Poquitos has a to-go door and some fun interactive art installations.
This young one is getting some vital education — a model for the Seattle Public Schools!
I heard singing and chanting in various styles while I walked around. Here some indigenous folks are beating drums and singing to a fairly dense crowd (at least for covid times).
Some folks engaging in the Conversation Café; but the lines were much longer to get a Seattle Dog at the tent to the right.
I’d read about a memorial to George Floyd, but it seems to have expanded in scope along with the rest of the CHAZ over the past week.
The abandoned police precinct building is now property of HOT TEA.

Overall I was quite surprised by the scope of the investment. I had ridden by just the previous Saturday, before the police abandoned the precinct, when the police barricades were still in place. At that time, there were just a handful of small tents along 11th near Pike handing out water and offering medical supplies. I spoke a policeman at that time, flanked with what looked like national guard in paramilitary light camo, and he said the police line had been moving around almost hourly as “conditions” changed. A week later, we have the CHAZ/CHOP.

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