J. James F.: The Birth of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone

Industrial Worker, June 10, 2020

In my understanding, an autonomous zone is an area where state authority has been consciously rejected. What makes those blocks on Cap Hill autonomous is that the police have been pushed out, and people are free to self-manage. A big side effect is that folks can just go out there and live unlike the rest of capitalism, which forces us to always be consuming or working, you can just be in an occupation like that, which is incredibly liberating.

Laura, @anarchomastia, eyewitness

The capitalist class in American society has been in a state of denial over the growing disenfranchisement of the people who live here and create all the wealth. BIPOC communities and the LGBTQ+ community have been mistreated and abused for the entire history of the United States. In doing so, the capitalist class has sold the working class down the river with a worldwide war on the workers, the most recent wave of attacks begins with the founding of the World Trade Organization, and it is here where the story of Capitol Hill picks up.

Capitol Hill has been a center for radical action for a long time. Ever since the ’70s, it has had a reputation of being the “queer neighborhood” of Seattle. According to Laura, “back in the ’70s and ’80s it was one of the few places you could just be openly gay and not be at risk of getting bashed for it.” The radical spirit on Cap Hill saw the neighborhood take point and be the center of Seattle’s WTO protest in 1999. Cap Hill has since then been gentrified, though the sense of community was never truly repressed or replaced. Instead, it has been tested and matured by the generations of workers who have been mistreated by the capitalist. All of this has culminated in a breaking point.

On May 25, 2020, the police were recorded killing George Floyd in Minneapolis. This act would set off the United States’ powder keg of injustice and send the whole nation into a state of unrest. Seattle erupted on the fourth day of the protests and demonstrators met the same response of police brutality and repression seen at protests across the country. Tear gas was used liberally, video footage showed entire streets covered in a foggy haze.

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