by Alex Lloyd Gross
The Seattle Autonomous Zone is in the process of being dismantled. There were shootings and assaults. When people heard about it locally, the idea of an area with no police appealed to some people and they set up a smaller encampment, along the Ben Franklin Parkway at 22nd Street. It is an eye sore and it is something that the people who are camping there are proud of.
This area has about 75 tents that are pitched along the grass area. The people there run the range from well spoken and are very good at getting their ideas across, to people that have a difficult time putting two coherent words together, but when they do, they are loud and annoying. As you walk, there is caution tape setup and signs taped over A Von Colin Field sign. ‘NO COPS”. Frank Von Colin was a Park Policeman shot dead August 29, 1970. The area where the protesters are is on a field named after him.
They have their own “library” and first aid tent. They also claim to be broke and in need of housing. Yet, this is well organized. They have marshals that walk around making sure things are okay. They can also afford two way radios. Some of the campers have propane stoves They want people to pay attention to them but leave them alone at the same time. There are a few signs around this area that say “NO PHOTOS ” This is enforced by people that try to intimidate people. They have no legal right to stop you or anyone from taking photos or walking through their area. It is public. You can walk through and take photos just like you can walk down a neighborhood street. The only thing you cannot do is go into the tents without permission. If they lay a finger on you, it is assault. You would think they would know the more attention they get, the more likely people will listen to them.
They can request no police but that is about as enforceable as the photos sign. Should there be a problem, they cannot handle it themselves, they MUST call the police. In case of illness or overdose, you you think their First Aid tent is capable of taking care of the situation? Maybe it’s best to call an ambulance.
With these people come demands that are not going to happen anytime soon. Those demands include defunding and disbanding all police. They want the city to give them abandoned houses for free. Yet, these people have no jobs or are incapable of keeping a job, which will pay them money needed to fix up the house and pay utilities. They want the city to allow anyone to camp on the parkway for as long as they like.
With Mayor Kenney taking a stand against vigilantes, who protect businesses and statues, this zone has people that claim to be armed, by walking around with radios. One male was on a bicycle wearing a Black Guns Matter T shirt. When asked, he refused to say if he was armed or had a license to carry a firearm. With the Seattle zone, they had armed sentry patrols. Those people needed to get donations to survive. It is the same on the parkway.
There are no showers but there are portable toilets. Mayor James Kenney called the encampment a “temporary situation.”