Seattle, Washington – In a surprising turn of events, the New York Times has finally published an article that showcased the CHAZ/CHOP area for what it was – unchecked violence and intimidation.
However, the NYT is a little late to the party of calling the occupation out for what it was, considering it’s been over a month, since police managed to rid the area of rioters.
NYT writer Nellie Bowles, who typically covers stories related to emerging technology and online culture, was the one to cover the perspective of local business owners who were rightfully scared of the demonstrators during the month-long occupation.
What is it like when a city abandons a neighborhood and the police vanish? Business owners describe a harrowing experience of calling for help and being left all alone.https://t.co/hoNUFeUHr0
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) August 7, 2020
She covered the perspectives of several business owners, but the story of Faizel Khan who runs a coffee shop where CHAZ/CHOP was raging during the occupation, provided some of the most honest insight.
While the media and elected officials like Mayor Jenny Durkan were coining CHAZ/CHOP as the “summer of love”, Bowles wrote that Khan saw something else completely different:
“That was not what [Khan] saw through the windows of his Seattle coffee shop. He saw encampments overtaking the sidewalks. He saw roving bands of masked protesters smashing windows and looting.”
The experience Khan endured, that was detailed by Bowles in the article, showcased how patrons of his shop – and even himself – were subject to displays of intimidation and lectures from the Antifa crowd present:
“Young white men wielding guns would harangue customers as well as Mr. Khan, a gay man of Middle Eastern descent who moved here from Texas so he could more comfortably be out. To get into his coffee shop, he sometimes had to seek the permission of self-appointed armed guards to cross a border they had erected.”
Khan stated that there was hardly anything peaceful going on around him during the occupation, but rather he felt more like a prisoner at times within the occupied area:
“They barricaded us all in here. And they were sitting in lawn chairs with guns.”
While local politicians left the area without a police presence for weeks, in concurrence with the armed insurgents terrorizing the area, Khan is alongside many other business owners who are suing the city for essentially abandoning them whenever they called police and never got a response.
Businesses in the CHAZ area are suing Seattle
— Cornelius Robinson (@CorynRobinson) August 7, 2020
Khan explained that during the occupation, business was doing poorly because hardly anyone outside of the occupied area dared to make their way into the “lawless” zone:
“They said they would not come into CHOP. It was lawless.”
The Cafe Argento owner still considers himself lucky to have managed as he did during the occupation and in the wake of it, as he described that there were still several businesses that were still in a decimated state after the occupation was dissolved.
Khan stated that there are still many business owners who are frightened of speaking out against the anarchy for fear of becoming targets for harassment by mobs in the future.
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Business owners have been hiring private security since the aftermath of CHAZ/CHOP, with Rick Hearns being one of those private security guards. He adorns a lanyard that states “Black Lives Matter Community Patrol”, but despite the BLM namesake, Hearns is there to ensure no more rioting occurs from any bad actors.
Hearns described the looters and vandals as “opportunists” and stated that a majority of the criminal damage came at the hands of none other than Antifa:
“It’s antifa. They don’t want to see the progress we’ve made. They want chaos.”
The sentiments described by Hearns regarding Antifa was mirrored by many of the business owners in the area as well – that the destruction and chaos came compliments mostly from Antifa members.
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) August 7, 2020
In what had to be the most shocking characterization made by NYT writer Bowles, was that she referred to Antifa in the article as “radical” and “violent” – and the news outlet actually put that to print:
“Antifa, which stands for anti-fascist, is a radical, leaderless leftist political movement that uses armed, violent protest as a method to create what supporters say is a more just and equitable country.”
Unsurprisingly, when Mayor Durkan finally did the right thing and ended the “summer of love” in early July, City Council member Kshama Sawant was upset:
“Shame on Mayor Jenny Durkan for deploying Seattle police yesterday in a brutal attack against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters & homeless neighbors at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).”
Shame on Mayor Jenny Durkan for deploying Seattle police yesterday in a brutal attack against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters & homeless neighbors at the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP).https://t.co/GtR3HfKYZ8
— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) July 3, 2020
While smaller protests have popped up in the once-dubbed CHAZ/CHOP area, things are finally starting to showcase a semblance of normal operations again in the area.
While the mayor’s office did not comment on the lawsuit against the city, the following statement was released:
“Many who live and work in Capitol Hill and other parts of the city continue to witness daily protests that are rightly demanding an end to systemic racism. In some circumstances, businesses and residents have faced property destruction in the last two months.”
Because nothing ends racism quite like a broken window, graffiti, some arson here and there and don’t forget a couple of murders that happened in the area.
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