Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP)
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The Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), formerly known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), refers to a six-block region of Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood outside the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department that has declared itself separate from the United States government; though, has not been recognized by local or federal governments. Activists established the area during the 2020 George Floyd Protests against police violence and brutality, using police and road barricades left behind from standoffs between law enforcement and protesters. While the city has not recognized the area, protesters use the Seattle Autonomous Zone as an activist encampment with food, water and tents.
On June 8th, 2020, protesters declared the Seattle Autonomous Zone after police abandoned the area to de-escalate interactions with protesters. Before the establishment of the Autonomous Zone, police used tear gas in an attempt to clear the region.
That day, reports of the autonomous zone began appearing online. For example, Twitter user @anarchomastia tweeted, "People have established a 6 block autonomous zone in cap hill. Walled off with staggered barricades with teams setting up bathroom distributing food and water, disabling security cameras. This is revolutionary praxis." The Instagram account @decolonizethisplace shared the tweet with a photograph of a road barrier that reads, "You are now entering the Cap Hill Autonomous Zone." The post on Instagram received more than 12,000 likes in less than two days (shown below).
Twitter user @AGarlandPhoto tweeted a video of the areas, writing, "Activists build their own barricades to protect themselves" (shown below).
Activists build their own barricades to protect themselves pic.twitter.com/ilGct7ZVQ6
— Alex Garland (@AGarlandPhoto) June 9, 2020
On June 8th, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted, " officers have removed barricades surrounding the East Precinct while safely securing the facility" (shown below).
Following reports of the Autonomous Zone, people online began posting images of maps, detailing the extent of the area. Twitter user @grnr_s tweeted one with the caption, "If you like the mapping status of the toppled/dumped statue in Bristol, you're gonna like this: 'Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, an autonomous area in central #Seattle as of June 9th. Notable due to historical significance'" (shown below, left).
Others posted images of the area. Twitter user @historyofarmani tweeted, "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle. 6 blocks retaken back for the people. 'You are now leaving the USA' when you enter. Long live the fucking revolution." The tweet received more than 33,000 likes and 8,800 retweets in less than two days (shown below, center).
Twitter user @BRRN_Fed tweeted, "Good morning to the Seattle Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone!" The tweet received more than 38,000 likes and 13,000 retweets in less than two days (shown below, right).
Some online opposed the Seattle Autonomous Zone. Filmmaker Christopher F. Rufo wrote, "These activist groups are not legitimate authorities and they've effectively taken businesses and residents in the neighborhood hostage--and their threats make people too afraid to speak out. This is what happens when you 'defund the police': paramilitary gangs seize control and impose their ideology outside the bounds of the democratic process." The post received more than 6,300 shares, 1,900 reactions and 1,700 comments in less than 24 hours (shown below).
On June 9th, Redditor  Lorddoener launched the /r/CapHillAutonomousZone subreddit. That day, a thread about the Autonomous Zone in /r/ChapoTrapHouse  subreddit received more than 5,600 points (99% upvoted0 and 540 comments in less than 24 hours.
On June 9th, Redditor Thomas200389 posted an image of two armed people in the Autonomous Zone in the /r/liberalgunowners subreddit. They wrote, "Puget sound gun club patrolling The autonomous zone which was set up and being run by the protestors in cap hill. It’s a Self contained and guarded zone for protestors to get food, medical treatment, and sleep. Police have willingly pulled out of the area for de-escalation." The post received more than 4,200 points (93% upvoted) and 450 comments in less than 24 hours (shown below).
On June 10th, Twitter user @TheWholeStory6 posted a video in which a graffiti artist appears to get involved in a physical confrontation with a man identified as rapper Raz Simone. During the video, a voice can be heard speaking to the graffiti artist, stating "we are the police of this community now" (shown below).
Policing in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone by
RazSimone</a>. There appear to be no body cameras, reports, or oversight and accountability. This was an attempt at de-escalation for spraying paint onto a building which resulted in an alleged assault. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/chaz?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#chaz</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/FreeCapitolHill?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#FreeCapitolHill</a> <a href="https://t.co/dI1J6QNcpn">pic.twitter.com/dI1J6QNcpn</a></p>— TheWholeStory (TheWholeStory6) June 10, 2020
That day, another video of the incident wat submitted to the /r/Seattle subreddit in a post titled "Raz Simone and crew assault man for graffiti, June 10 2020."Also on June 10th, Twitter user @RHGR posted several screenshots from the Reddit post along with the message "#SeattleAutonomousZone now has a warlord. It's been 2 days" (shown below). Within 48 hours, the tweet gained more than 10,800 likes and 5,800 retweets.
#SeattleAutonomousZone now has a warlord. It’s been 2 days. pic.twitter.com/9Eu5ALrINU— RHGR (@RHGR) June 10, 2020
Meanwhile, Redditor bat_soup_777 posted a screenshot of Simone's Wikipedia page, pointing out that the word "Warlord" had been added to his occupation (shown below, left). On June 11th, Simone tweeted a screenshot of a tweet by Donald Trump along with the message "I'm not a Terrorist Warlord" (shown below, right).
That day, screenshots of old tweets attributed to Simone which included derogatory slurs for homosexuals began circulating on Twitter, leading Simone to claim he was "hacked" and that people were "creating fake tweets from my page somehow" (shown below).
On June 12th, 2020, the New York Post published an article titled "Rapper Raz Simone accused of being 'warlord' in Seattle's police-free CHAZ." The article made mention of reports that Simone had "been patroling the CHAZ with an AK-47 and a handgun."
During the week of June 15th, many reported that the area's name had changed to the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest." According to some, this was to clarify the mission of the protest, which is to defund the police and reinvest in communities and not to secede from the United States.
WE ARE #CHOP not #CHAZ stop spilling lies and spreading this narrative of being autonomous pic.twitter.com/wh0oxcCafy
— Black Lives Matter (@djbsqrd) June 14, 2020
On June 30th, following a deadly shooting on June 29th, that left one teen dead and another in critical condition, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an executive order to vacate the area. That morning, work crews began dismantling the barricades surrounding the protest zone.
#BREAKING: Seattle Police just showed here at #CHOP with SDOT.
Multiple pieces of heavy machinery now moving barricades. And crews are working fast. @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/9w0LjXL36v
— Deedee Sun (@DeedeeKIRO7) June 30, 2020
 Capitol Hill Seattle – ‘Welcome to Free Capitol Hill’ -- Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone forms around emptied East Precinct -- UPDATE
 Instagram – @decolonizethisplace's Post
 Twitter – @MayorJenny's Tweet
 Twitter – @grnr_s's Tweet
 Twitter – @historyofarmani's Tweet
 Twitter – @BRRN_Fed's Tweet
 Reddit – /r/CapHillAutonomousZone
 Facebook – Christopher F. Rufo's Post
 Reddit – /r/liberalgunowners
 Reddit – /r/ChapoTrapHouse (page unavailable)
 New York Post – Rapper Raz Simone accused of being warlord
 Twitter – @realDonaldTrump
 Reddit – /r/Seattle
 Seattle PI – How CHAZ became CHOP: Seattle's police-free zone explained
 New York Times – Another Fatal Shooting in Seattle’s ‘CHOP’ Protest Zone
 Twitter – SeattlePD's Tweet
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