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  • Writer's pictureMaria Vandenburg

The Inspiring "Domestic Terrorism" of the Capital Hill's Occupied Protest

Updated: Jun 20, 2020

I haven't tuned into the news for YEARS now because I don't resonate at all with the level of fear used to inform us of what's going on. That doesn't mean, I don't pay attention, it just means I am selective of my information sources and also what I'm willing to tune into and give my energy and attention to.

With the founding of the "Capital Hill Autonomous Zone" aka CHAZ and now newly shifted to "Capital Hill Occupied Protest" in the last few weeks in Seattle, I have had numerous friends and family reach out to ask me if I am safe and if I'm OK.

"What are they so worried about?" I thought. I had been to CHAZ/CHOP (before it was officially known as that) and had attended an incredibly peaceful protest where I was offered water, snacks, and food by pretty much everyone I passed by. I also stopped to listen to the following speech:

"We can NOT be divided and argue amongst each other right now. We NEED EVERYONE to come together, people who this directly affects and allies. Together. And stand as One. That is the only way to get over what we are going through in this country right now. And if you don't realize that, then you are dumb, deaf, and blind, and you don't know what's going on, and I refuse to sit back on my thumbs."

Then I saw what was going on. What friends and family both WITHIN Seattle, and outside were tuning into. I saw the local and national media coverage on how we are a "bunch of domestic terrorists" and how Seattle is being "taken over by anarchists" - it's literally such a bunch of bull sh*t.

I was there today, and this is what I saw:

There is still after stall after stall of the "No-Cop Co-Op"

One of the sign reads: "We do not accept cash or $ donations. We are not a part of an organization or nonprofit. Kindness is our Currency. Donate if you can. Help if you are able to. Say Hi to someone you don't know. Treat people how you want to be treated. And... Don't Tear Gas"

Domestic terrorists with kindness as their currency... one of the two CLEARLY doesn't fit.

Another sign reads: "It is not US helping THEM. WE ARE THEM."

Other things to note, they organize public screenings to inform and educate themselves and host regular discussions and events to spark and inspire one another. To follow along live you can tune into the following

Instagram Account: Nikkita Oliver

The Stranger: Live Stream

CHAZ's website: Live Stream

Some of the local businesses in the area are opening up their places for food and the use of their facilities. Local business owner Steven Severin was recently interviewed for Billboard magazine and said the following:

"I do have the power to help make systemic changes, so who do I listen to to make that happen? I have a platform and lots of people. I have some kind of power because of what I do and I can talk to people who have power who can make those changes. Let’s not use tear gas. We’ve got to talk to our elected officials and say this has got to stop. That on top of defunding the police department, which people need to understand what that really means. I am by no means an expert, but I have read up on it and it makes so much sense. Cops should not be dealing with mentally unstable people. You should have a different department that deals with that. Take the money that goes to that in the police department and put it where it can do some good, because what is happening right now is not working. 

We don’t know under what guise this goes. We don’t know if this is a music industry thing or a [Washington Nightlife and Music Association] thing but we want to create a letter and a list of demands and get powerful people to sign it. [Elected officials] don’t just read anything. You have to have the privilege that we have to get them to pay attention. So let’s create something. Let’s work with the Black Lives Matter folks and let’s see what needs to be done. We aren’t going to recreate the wheel, we aren’t the right people to figure that out because we aren’t the ones that are oppressed. So we need to find out what needs to get to the governor and the mayor and the police chief. It needs to happen now. There is no waiting. There are a lot of long-term systemic changes that need to be made, but there are also things that can be done right now."

The most recent media spin has seemed to move from "its a bunch of anarchists" to "its free-loving summer love" - which it also isn't. It's people coming together to stand and fight for the rights of the black community and for one another.

Right at the start of the youth rally, this young man spoke up: Because a community together is what takes down the system that they create. We are here for each other. That’s my message, that has always been my message, and I hope that everyone has some of the same characteristics and thinking. We are here for each other and we are doing this or each other and we are doing this because black lives matter”

The Capital Hill Occupied Protest is the most beautiful and inspirational thing I have the chance to witness so far. It's given me hope because it's like our entire city is coming together in unity to fight and to stand with and for the Black Community. It's given me hope because although it's still in it's infancy everyone isn't afraid to dive in and work together, to show up, to speak up, to take a stand. It's given me hope because it's the creation of beauty amongst the chaos around us.

Does it have its issues? Yes. Of Course.

She says: "The Seattle Police attacked their own people. It was a war zone down here. I want to spread this message: This is Not Capital Hill Block Party. We work very hard to make it look the way it looks after what they did to us. There is a lot of people that have trauma after what happened, myself included, so let's be considerate of that. This is not a march for one person, this is a march for all of us to remember why we are here, because people outside of here don't know that Black Lives Matter so what we are going to do today, peacefully and controlled, is remind them that Black Lives Matter because until they realize that this isn't really a safe zone. The police felt very comfortable coming here yesterday and pepper-spraying someone on the way out. It was a small action, but there is still a long way to go. So for my life, for your life, keep it tight, and keep it unified."

The police showed up a few days ago with tear gas and pepper spray, traumatizing the peaceful demonstrators and organizers. They also lack the infrastructure support that is needed right now to ground the energy in a bit more, but they are working on it, and if I witnessed anything today, it's the power and resilience of Seattle.

At the same time, we were gathered in Cal Anderson, 60,000 people gathered for the statewide silent protest for Black Lives Matters.

The Demands for that were the following - and we were 60,000+ strong:

The energy of this city and the amazing people within it is the most beautiful thing I've witnessed, and it gives me such hope, even if we are just at ground zero at this point.

The place has such spirit. Such a fighting spirit, and such a unified desire for change.

The people organizing behind the scenes are passionate and rallying together.

The community is showing up.

And we are getting the nation's attention.

Grateful to be here, and grateful for you to tune in.

If you would like to be involved, but don't have the ability to physically show up, there are a few ways you can find out more information:

I like to follow these guys for updates on what is actually going on within CHAZ/COP

The Stranger's CHAZ/CHOP


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Sending love and light out there <3


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