A group of protesters who have taken over downtown Seattle, creating a six-block autonomous zone made up of armed citizen patrols, already appears to be suffering from infighting caused by a leadership chasm and arguments over heavy-handedness.
One man, a rapper named Raz Simone, appears to have tried to position himself as the leader of the “No cop, Co-op," where hundreds have been encouraged to remain camped out to occupy the now graffiti-ridden zone in Seattle’s capitol district that includes a shuttered police precinct.
Simone on Tuesday denied accusations he had declared himself the “warlord” of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) – which has wooden barricades and armed checkpoints meant to keep out uniformed police officers, and a sign hung above the precinct that reads: “THIS SPACE IS NOW PROPERTY OF THE SEATTLE PEOPLE.”
“The President really put a hit on my head,” Simone tweeted. “I’m not a Terrorist Warlord. Quit spreading that false narrative. The world has NEVER been ready for a strong black man. We have been peaceful and nothing else. If I die don’t let it be in vain.”
President Trump has accused “radical left Democrats” in charge of Seattle and the state of Washington of allowing “ugly anarchists” and “domestic terrorists” to disrupt law and order. Hundreds stormed Seattle’s City Hall Tuesday night to demand Mayor Jenny Durkan defund police or step down.
Both Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee have thrown support behind Black Lives Matter and urged Trump to stop tweeting and “go back to your bunker.”
Seattle Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nollette has said the department is working to identify the leaders in CHAZ to discuss reopening the precinct and noted officers are responding to 911 calls in the area.
“We are dedicated to working with peaceful protesters on a way to move forward,” Nollette said. “There’s a whole citywide effort to try to identify who the leaders are. It’s just a matter of establishing a dialogue so we can take down the plywood and welcome people back into the lobby.”
Meanwhile, “THE DEMANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE BLACK VOICES AT FREE CAPITOL HILL TO THE GOVERNMENT OF SEATTLE, WASHINGTON,” has been published on Medium.com. The list of 30 demands calls to defund the police department and retry “all People in Color currently serving a prison sentence for violent crime," among other goals.
Simone received pushback Wednesday after a video posted online showed him shoving another man to stop him from spray-painting a building within the "autonomous" zone. Simone was accused of "policing" the new society without "body cameras, reports, or oversight and accountability."
"This was an attempt at de-escalation for spraying paint onto a building which resulted in an alleged assault," TheWholeStory tweeted.
“I hate to have to do this but @RazSimone we gotta talk,” Austin C. Howe, who describes himself as an “anarchist-socialist/pacifist” and “big fan” of the zone, said. “You and I just had a very nice discussion about what we are and aren't doing with the precinct building as a matter of optics, and within 5 hours you streamed yourself putting hands on a graffiti tagger. I need answers.
Howe, who appears to have contributed to the Medium post of demands, continued: “Like, believe me, I'm trying to justify this in my head, but when I visited Cap Hill today it was COVERED in graffiti and I'm grasping for straws trying to imagine why that guy tagging graffiti is an issue. Please be accountable for this?”
Another user said Simone is “verbally abusive to those around them and has a serious problem with not getting his way.” The verified account “Tree” accused Simone of making a “call to arms” on Facebook Live, telling protesters to “Come out strapped.”
“This is not a person who should be positioning themselves as a leader of this movement,” Tree wrote.
In response to the video, Simone said: “This actually went beautifully and we all hugged it out and spoke with his dad. His dad now wants me to mentor him. It was great black dialogue and men apologizing to each other, abandoning pride. We all hugged each other, cried it out and it was beautiful.”