SEATTLE — On June 8, Seattle police frantically loaded what they could from the East Precinct into trucks and cars. Within hours, they boarded up and abandoned the station. That night, left-wing protesters from Black Lives Matter and Antifa declared ownership of the six-block neighborhood in the middle of the Pacific Northwest’s largest city. They named their new territory the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or CHAZ. No laws or rules applied here except for one: “No cops allowed.”
During five undercover days and nights in the zone, I witnessed a continuing experiment in anarchy, chaos and brute-force criminality. In order to avoid being exposed as a journalist — several reporters have been barred or expelled — I slept and showered outside the zone. (Those inside have no showers but they do have portable bathrooms.) I took meals, and most of my water breaks, elsewhere because I was reluctant to remove my mask and risk being recognized. Every day I entered the zone twice through its semi-porous borders — once in the early afternoon, and again after sundown, staying until the wee hours.
Crime has surged inside and outside the zone.
On Saturday morning, a shooting erupted that left at least one person dead and another injured near a border checkpoint. Police were reportedly met with resistance when they tried to get to the victims, who apparently were then taken in private cars to the hospital. Cops made it into the zone to gather shell casings and evidence, some reports said, as police in riot gear stood at the border.
On Thursday, police arrested Robert James after he left the CHAZ. He is accused of sexually assaulting a deaf woman who was lured inside a tent. The same day, former city council candidate Isaiah Willoughby was arrested on suspicion of starting the arson attack on the East Precinct on June 12.
Police Chief Carmen Best has stated that police response times to 911 calls in the surrounding area have “more than tripled” because the force is down a station.
This article originally appeared in the New York Post. For more from the Post, click here.