Kim Kelly: Meet the Gun Club Patrolling Seattle’s Leftist Utopia

Though everyone from Trump to local cops have expressed fear about the idea of anti-brutality activists being armed, they say it’s essential to ward off dangerous extremists.

The Daily Beast, June 14, 2020

Seattle’s bustling Capitol Hill neighborhood has long been a hotbed of gentrification, but right now, the streets surrounding Cal Anderson Park are undergoing a different kind of transformation.

Over the past several days of its remarkable existence, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) has captured radical imaginations across the country, and struck fear into the hearts of conservative politicians and right-wing media pundits (including the president). Also known as the Seattle Autonomous Zone, the six blocks surrounding Seattle’s now-abandoned East Precinct have become a virtually cop-free space, populated instead by a diverse congregation of activists and community members who have turned it into a bastion of radical care and artistic expression. 

Last week, the area resembled a warzone, as Seattle police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd and choked out the neighborhood. Now, there is a community garden, a harm reduction clinic, a free food co-op, and artwork everywhere—and local businesses are on board. As Vixen, a Seattle resident who has been participating in the protests and declined to give a last name, told The Daily Beast from a quiet spot behind the barricades, “This place has gone from being filled with explosions and tear gas to being a place of healing.” 

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