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  • Writer's pictureMaria Vandenburg

Capital Hill Occupied Protest: It's in Dire Need of Leadership Support

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

As I deliberately and intentionally went to Capital Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP) a few weeks ago to dispel the media coverage about how it was full of "domestic terrorists," I've been asked for updates on where things stand now, and I wanted to take a few seconds to do that.

Before I dive in, I wanted to reveal who I follow for legitimate updates and news about everything that's going on within the area:

  1. Nikkitta Oliver: I freaking LOVE her. This woman who I have never met, but is magic and inspires me every single day. She is one of the reasons I recently re-registered to vote now that I'm back home in Seattle, so I can vote her as Mayor (if she ever chooses to run again)

  2. Converge Media:: Local independent media company run by a man named Omari Salisbury, I love him as well and his heart and dedication to our beautiful emerald city.

This blog update was brought to life by tuning into this Activist Class podcast where a local group of activists spoke about their thoughts on the emergence of CHOP, as well as this episode from Converge Media on the current state of affairs.

Activist Class talked about how CHOP had a few wins:

  1. It's served a place for activists to have conversations about their resistance/demands and was also a great visual representation of it all

  2. It was a testing ground to experience the end of policing. This video right here is a great example of that. It was a local black man rising above the chaos to peacefully escort an angry white man (who just vandalized the area) outside of it.

  3. It's providing community healing and mutual aid - which is what I experienced when I wrote my first blog about it all here

They noted how it was never meant to be permanent and needs to serve the demands of the community. So what's the issue now? Where does it stand?

How I felt before I tuned into this podcast and converge media episode is that it seems to me that there many groups of passionate organizers behind the scenes that are having difficulty coming together to rally and unite on a shared vision, next steps, and demands. I watched an interview the other day where someone at CHOP said: "We've established the momentum, now we need to figure out the forward movement." It appears to me that there have been too many divergent organizers/parties.

That coupled with Capital Hill Residents and Business Owners getting frustrated with the lack of concrete forward movement and next steps. As one commenter claiming to be all "capital hill residents" wrote on Converge Media's recent article on the Mayor's meeting

And now after finishing the podcast and the episode, my thoughts stand and my heart honestly breaks for Omari Salisbury. How much does he and the others down there on the ground have to carry? If you even tune into just 30 seconds of the interview you can see the emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion going on for him and the bottom line, there are two people who have lost their lives now, and there have been sexual assaults.

I'm also reminded of the power of the media as well and how just a few simple words can completely change how people view a situation. Is it safe? Or is it dangerous? Is it anarchists? Or is it peaceful protestors passionate about affecting change within the world?

So what are my hopes for CHOP? I have personally witnessed how powerful, beautiful, and transformative this space can be. I have seen the rallying and coming together of the community it can hold, I can see how it can also be a space to amplify the voices of the black youth. So my hopes are:

🦁 That the leaders of the city step up as Omari says: "We are just one type of media, it's like I'm on the ground doing all that I can do, but I'm being asked to fill the role of leadership and I'm willing to do it because I love my city, but it's a lot."

It made my heart break for him, to go out for his level of service in being in the heart of the occupied protest to be our eyes and ears, but at some point, it becomes too much, at some point we need our leaders to step up, step in, and help.

🦁 That the organizers of the movement can find a way to reach common ground, shared next steps and forward movement

🦁 That the Capital Hill Business Leaders and Neighbors continue to be patient as this group forms and rises

🦁 That the residents of Seattle continue to listen and be open to support

As to what will happen next?

I don't know, we will see.

There was talk about how it will all be dismantled today actually, as I write out these words to provide this update. I was incredibly inspired by what I witnessed first hand a few weeks ago, and I hope that I continue to be.

Sending lots of love and light to everyone out there.



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