Photo: Noah Riffe / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
Artillery Row

CHOP gets the chop

An experiment in self-government has been annexed by the United States of Amerikka

The Capitol Hill Ongoing Protest is no longer ongoing. On Wednesday morning, shocking footage emerged of the Seattle police actually doing their job. At five in the morning, the fascist, racist pigs woke up the free, peace-loving citizens of the CHOP autonomous zone with the news that they were being annexed by the United States of Amerikkka.

Most of the inmates were too drowsy to resist, and simply picked up their bongs and needles and staggered across the border with the US. But a few made a last stand, and evoked the spirit of CHOP by tipping over some portable toilets. It was an alimentary Alamo.

The dream is over. Declared as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in early June, then rebranded after the CHAZ became associated with drug dealing, vigilantism and veganism, the CHOP was a brave experiment in a new way of life: a society free of hate, policemen and soap.

CHOP really did show Americans that they could live differently. Order emerged naturally: within hours, a tattooed rapper named Raz Simone had emerged as the community’s leader, his beneficent rule symbolised by his AK-47 and his mixtape. Raz proved the wisdom of his rule in his first night on the job, by having his men beat up a graffiti artist. CNN gave him a kid-glove interview, and called him an ‘activist and hip hop artist’.

For a few brave days, the free people of CHOP lived in a different America, an America in which whites segregated blacks – for their own good, of course – and people got away with, well, murder. The highlight of the CHOP weeks, unless you were a drug dealer or a killer, was the Blackout event. It was inspiring to see white people forming a ring around black people, who sat on the grass in a kind of corral, designated a ‘safe space’ for ‘racial healing’.

CHOP abounded in other kinds of healing, too. The neighbouring government of Seattle received 65 desperate cries for help – sorry, reports of crimes — over the course of CHOP’s 23-day existence. The Capitol Hill area produced only 39 crime reports in all of 2019. This is what progress looks like, if you’re not so blinded by your white supremacism that you can’t read the data.

The lesson of CHOP will endure. ‘Defund the police’ has been a slogan in these weeks of perfectly reasonable and sensible protests. In the CHOP, people proved that, given the chance, they can step up and do what the police do. In the small hours of Tuesday, 30 June, CHOP border security repeatedly shot two black males for acting suspiciously.

When a white Jeep approached the check point at speed, several armed men fired into it at point-blank range. They killed a 16 year-old and badly wounded a 14 year-old.

‘Oh, you’re not dead yet,’ one of the citizen-officers noted. ‘Like to get pistol-whipped?’

This incident should not be confused with the fatal shooting that occurred in the small hours of Saturday, June 20, in which a 19-year-old man was shot to death and another young man badly wounded. So great was the disorder that the CHOP appealed to its neighbours for assistance. But when the United States sent police over the border, they were unable to assist the victims as what they described as a ‘violent crowd’ was waiting for them.

‘Please move out of the way so we can get to the victim,’ a police officer can be heard on film footage of the invasion.

‘You don’t belong here,’ a CHOP citizen screams.

‘Medics refused to help after people in the CHOP begged,’ President Simone tweeted in a diplomatic demarche the next day. ‘They let our bro bleed out for 30 minutes til he died. Fuck politics. Fuck your currupt [sic.] system.’

If you are surprised that the free republic of CHOP, having sacked the local police precinct and driven the forces of fascist Amerikkka out of Capitol Hill, should blame the same fascist Amerikkkan police for not responding quickly enough, then you are part of the problem.

The same goes if you think that it was unnecessarily generous of the Seattle authorities to supply the CHOP with portable toilets. The smell in the streets of the CHOP today, in case you’re wondering, is that rich and heady brew, a deposit of hope. If, as that lover of peace and justice Mao Zedong said, a thousand flowers are to bloom, they’ll need plenty of manure.

Sudden outbursts of violence tragically claimed the lives of young black men after the police withdrew from the CHOP. Sudden outbursts of violence have tragically claimed the lives of young black people in New York and Chicago following the withdrawal of the police from black neighbourhoods in those cities. Over the last weekend of June, 63 people were shot in Chicago, 16 of them fatally. The dead included three children under the age of ten.

The police have withdrawn because Black Lives Matter have insisted and Democratic mayors have complied. If you wonder for even a second whether the disappearance of the police from the places where they are most needed has led to the rise in the number of murdered black people, children included, then you are a racist. As Raz would say were his current whereabouts not unknown, this is about more than white fragility.

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