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Managing a business from within the CHOP
By Ron Lee
Published: 06/29/20 Topics: Government Comments:
It has been local, national and even international news. After numerous marches for Black Lives Matter, confrontations with police took place at barricades literally one floor below our offices in Seattle's vibrant Capitol Hill Neighborhood. (You can see our Orange building the photo.)
The protests and participants have organized themselves first into CHAS, the Capital Hill Autonomous Zone which morphed into CHOP, the Capital Hill Opposition Protest. Our family lives just 3 blocks away so working and living here has become a nightmare.
Ours is a administration office for a network of vacation rental management companies, inns and resorts located mostly around Washington State and Idaho. Accounting, advertising, reservations and software engineering.
The building is what might be called an "art loft" building built first as an automobile dealership a century ago, with 20 foot ceilings and huge windows overlooking a lovely park. Unlike downtown skyscrapers, the space offers peace and calm for a staff here long hours 7 days a week.
The neighborhood has always been the focus of groups marching for multiple causes. Minorities of all types, those opposed to the military and those supporting gay rights march outside our door multiple times each year. Twenty years ago during the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle, riots erupted.
Then, I lived about a dozen blocks away but even from that distance each night I was heart broken to see my 8 year old son frightened to hear the screaming, yelling and flash bang devices used to drive away self described anarchists.
My conclusion then was that no one, absolutely no one, has the right to make him feel that way, regardless of their reasons. I did not imagine it would happen here again.
Dr. Martin Luther King and his contemporaries made a point of never chanting when they marched, for fear that the adrenalin would cause participants or the police to become violent. Silence is golden, while vicious noise and anger do nothing for the cause.
This time however, in Seattle and elsewhere, with the outrage over the killing of George Floyd and others, the chanting, screaming and profanity outside our windows made it difficult to do our jobs. Most staff members were working from home due to Covid-19.
Vicious riots began in Seattle's downtown, just 2 miles from our location. Citizens were shocked at the destruction, theft and violence. Police responded to the relief of many people but were denounced by individual protestors.
Having been driven out of downtown, the protestors converged on our neighborhood to confront the police who set up barricades. Seemingly 24 hours a day, for days on end, protestors displaying an unbridled anger and aggressiveness, pushing forward until someone - police or protestors - made the confrontation violent usually at night. In addition to well-meaning protestors surely anarchists and other trouble makers were attracted to the chaos.
Police employed tear gas, flash bang devices and large numbers of officers to cause the crowds to disperse. Eventually, over the objection of the police chief, the Mayor gave orders to abandon the precinct building and have the officers run away.
For we essential workers, being on the second floor gave us some comfort, but we felt compelled to sneak into the building each morning and depart each night from the opposite side of the block. At night self-proclaimed armed men challenging workers coming and going. Some demanded money from businesses.
As soon as the police fled. a large group of people defaced every building the area, and took over the Cal Anderson park that lays directly below my window. People are camping in the park, tearing up lawns to build gardens. Hawkers are out selling or giving away food, T-shirts and who knows what.
In the past few days there have been 7 shootings, 2 people killed and 2 in critical condition. Parents of victims, are pleading with protestors to go home, as is the Mayor, the police chief and a coalition of African American clergy. Unfortunately some city council people are justify the violence due to "systemic racism".
Until this began I enjoyed strolling through our lovely park on my way to work. Now I avoid the park because it saddens me to see bums building campfires in the emptied kiddie wadding pools.
At night I hear gun shots, fireworks and constant chanting from over 3 blocks. As loud explosions wake me at 3 or 4am I can only wonder what else is next. Is there no law or order?
I have enjoyed living in this small neighborhood in this big city. I grew up in a small town and now for the first time ever, I am plotting how to get back to places where sensibility abounds.
Today CHOP's territory is slowly decreasing. Some barricades have been removed. The number of participants has eroded. Police hope to reoccupy their precinct but are going slow to not offend anyone.
It makes me wonder, why those who have been victimized feel its their right to victimize others. I want to support the needs of everyone, but by using violence and employing anarchy they are harming their own cause.
Author: Ron Lee
Blog #: 0766 – 06/29/20
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