Issues & Insights
The former Seattle East Precinct in the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Will CHAZ Be Death Knell For America’s Big Cities?

I&I Editorial

The takeover of a chunk of downtown Seattle — renamed the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or CHAZ, by one group of far-left protesters, and “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest,” or CHOP, by others — has been treated as a joke in some quarters. It’s no joke. Like it or not, the extreme leftists, social justice warriors, and anarchists are the new face of America’s big, once-great cities, a tragedy in the making.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said she wants her now-abandoned precinct, taken over by Black Lives Matter protesters, to be reopened under police control.

Good luck with that. Seattle’s ditzy left-wing mayor, Jenny Durkan, wants to, well, just let folks hang there for a while. She likened the violent capture of part of her city to a “block party” and the infamous “summer of love.”

More like a summer of hate. Reports that the heavily armed extreme-left Puget Sound John Brown Gun Club has been engaged to protect BLM leaders inside CHAZ/CHOP is a bad sign.

If Seattle police finally decide to take back their precinct, will they have their hands tied by extreme restrictions imposed by the mayor and the equally far-left city council? The answer is yes. And the likelihood of a tragic outcome will be increased. You can bet the John Brown Gun Club won’t have any such restrictions.

As for what’s going on in there, and what CHAZ/CHOP’s goals are, the most succinct description we’ve seen came from Christopher F. Rufo, writing for City Journal:

Through a series of speeches and community gatherings, activists have sought to implement the social theory of “decolonization,” which, in the words of Black Lives Matter activist Nikkita Oliver, means overthrowing capitalism, eliminating the structures of “patriarchy, white supremacy, and classism,” and returning the land of the autonomous zone to displaced Native American tribes.

Sound like a place where you’d like to put down roots or raise a family?

As Jonathan Turley noted at The Hill, “The government seems to have melted away, not just in Chaz but all of Seattle.” Such things kill cities.

The real danger here is that Seattle will set a negative precedent for other deep blue big cities to follow. It’s not so unthinkable, considering the collection of far-left cranks, outright socialists and so-called “progressive” activists posing as mayors and running major cities across the U.S.

For the record, they’re not “progressive” in any meaningful sense of that word at all. They’re nihilists, who think their actions will make things better by making them “more equal.”

They’ll succeed, of course. Everyone will be “equal” in their misery and lack of freedom. That’s the goal. It’s already leading to more class-warfare and political strife — and a growing chasm between what was once called “middle America” and the well-heeled, coastal leftist elites who now control the bulk of of academia, metro governments, the Big Media, and entertainment industries.

The abdication of leadership and political responsibility has encouraged riots and violent demonstrations, even as some officials propose “defunding the police.” That’s a move toward actual anarchy that’s rejected by 65% of Americans, according to a recent YouGov/HuffPost poll. Just 16% support it. Even African-Americans oppose defunding the police 2-to-1. They know they’d suffer most if law enforcement disappeared.

Another recent poll shows that 79% of truckers say they won’t deliver goods to cities with defunded police departments. If that happened, prices would soar and shortages proliferate. Think that won’t make life in America’s inner cities even worse?

This parade of anti-police city hall ineptitude is led by a who’s who of big town mayors, including Chicago’s Lori Lightfoot, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, New York top dog Bill de Blasio, Atlanta Mayor (and rumored possible Biden running mate) Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti.

All of them have kowtowed to the worst, most extreme and violent elements of their party. Instead of cooling tempers, they’ve fanned the flames of rage and anger, justifying crimes and massive property damage, while saying nothing about a wave of armed ambushes of police across the nation. Meantime, most squashed even small violations of coronavirus lockdown protocols, while simultaneously excusing and even marching with their far-left supporters in mass demonstrations that break those same shelter-at-home rules.

The word for that is hypocrisy.

The damage to our great metropolises will fester for years to come as businesses depart, taking jobs with them, and middle-class residents head for the suburbs or other states, depriving municipal governments of badly needed tax revenues and work for those who remain. Real estate values will plummet.

Don’t worry. They’ll blame President Donald Trump. Indeed, they already are.

As a result of this mayoral misconduct, the future of America’s big cities looks pretty bleak. Those with defunded police and angry radicals run amok won’t attract private investment. Services for citizens, without tax dollars, will be poorly funded and meager. African Americans and Hispanics, with fewer options to move, will take the most vicious hits.

Our Constitution gives control of policing to counties, cities, towns and villages. Not to Washington, D.C. So Democratic mayors have no excuse at all for their failures. In the cases of both George Floyd in Minneapolis and Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, they own both sides of the tragedy.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s tolerance of a violent takeover of part of its city will haunt it for years, if not decades. Other cities that continue down this same road will also regret it. In a future America, hopefully by then shorn of this far-left madness, the rational ones among us will wonder how so many supposedly educated people could have so lost their minds.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board.

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • The mere any of these people are in charge of anything, tells me all I need to know about the Democrat voter.

  • Rush Limbaugh has already stated that the death knell for large cities has been struck by corona virus. With everyone working from home, there is no need to live in the big city where you work. Look for the commerical market to collapse in these “occupied” cities, as office buildings empty. Add the protests, destruction and anarchy on top of corona, and soon the only people living in the cities will be the city government employees and the homeless, and as taxes in the cities dry up the arts and entertainment culture of the large city will also begin the dry up.

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