A socialist Seattle city council member will introduce a bill to keep a downtown area seized by protesters in “community control.”
Kshama Sawant, of the Socialist Alternative party, announced that her office was currently working on legislation to protect the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or CHAZ. Protesters claimed control over a six-block area in Seattle’s third police precinct, after officers were ordered to abandon the precinct building.
“The movement, led by a multi-racial community of youth, won a major victory, forcing Seattle police & the big business-backed establishment to leave East Precinct. The movement was undaunted in the face of horrific violence from Mayor Durkan’s police. Congratulations, solidarity!” Sawant wrote on Twitter.
“Our movement needs to urgently ensure East Precinct is not handed back to police, but is turned over permanently into community control,” Sawant continued. “My office is bringing legislation to convert East Precinct into a community center for restorative justice.”
The precinct was abandoned following clashes with protesters and police were made aware of threats that the precinct building would be burned down. Police Chief Carmen Best said Thursday that it was “not my decision” to evacuate the precinct, and that officers are having trouble responding to emergencies in the area.
“Our calls for service have more than tripled,” Best told reporters. “These are responses to emergency calls — rapes, robberies, and all sorts of violent acts that have been occurring in the area that we’re not able to get to.”
Mayor Jenny Durkan wrote on Twitter Thursday that “The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone # is not a lawless wasteland of anarchist insurrection – it is a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world.”