Publisher’s Point: CHOPping Down The CHAZ

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Next month in August, my husband and I will have been here in Alabama for 20 years. They have been some of the best of my life, and I will thank God forever for bringing us here. I have always let folks know that I am one of the few natives of Seattle, Washington; and while the Great NorthWET will always have a special place in my heart, Alabama is home. Sometimes I think people who “are not from around here” actually have a greater appreciation for Alabama in general, and Athens in particular than those who have always been here. One of the things that fuels that appreciation is having the freedom to be free in ways that are not so much the case in other parts of the country. Most of that freedom is an inward thing, and lots of it has to do with embracing faith and common sense.

I know it’s easy to make fun of Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) or the newer name that was given after this debacle was formed: CHOP. That stood for Capitol Hill Occupied Property, or to some, Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (Zone). As of this week, CHOP has been chopped…like from the occupied landscape.

What was touted by the mayor of Seattle as something akin to a street fair became anything but. It was not some kind of renaissance of 1967, the so-called Summer of Love. It was not a mini-Woodstock, it was not an oasis of tolerance for anything other than anarchy, and people were sexually assaulted, while two others were murdered there. Food that was designated for the homeless was stolen, and a black patriot who walked through there with an American flag was mercilessly harassed.

Police were banned from their area, surrendered (against their will) their local precinct station, and then blamed for not protecting people. Firefighters would not respond without police protection, and who could blame them? The mayor, Jenny Durkan, first bowed up at any inference that she should stop the formation of a new country which sported at its borders a sign which said, “You are now leaving the United States of America.”

The supposed reasoning behind the formation of CHOP was to protest the death of George Floyd. But here is the rub: How does acting as badly as the police officer who killed him inspire reform? Is that what you would call “servant leadership,” or “leading by example?” What broke my heart about the rape (the one for which there has been an arrest) besides the fact that it was a rape, which is enough, was that the victim was deaf and could only communicate by signing. Her police statement indicates that she signed, “Don’t touch” to her attacker, thinking that should have been enough.

Well, I don’t know what finally inspired Seattle’s mayor to finally say, “Enough is enough,” and let the police do their job, but they did. It was over in a few minutes; there were no casualties, and the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone has returned to the United States of America. Fifty years ago we saw similar kinds of things happening all over America, and it was scary. But I not only have good news that there is great reason to have hope in the midst of this scariness, please know that my life in Him was birthed in a time of similar chaos and is proof that great good can come out of undeniable wrong. And that, dear readers, was an “Independence Day” that will last for all eternity. Happy 4th of July, and please find a veteran or a police officer to thank for your earthly freedom!