Free Food, Free Speech and Free of Police: Inside Seattle’s ‘Autonomous Zone’

This is a genuinely interesting development here in Seattle. As a means of de-escalating the tensions between the BLM protesters and the Seattle Police Department, the SPD simply abandoned a precinct office in Capitol Hill. The protesters declared the area an “Autonomous Zone” and are using it to model how they think the city should operate.

The protesting has stopped. The tensions are gone, but where does it go from here? The SPD will presumably want to eventually move back into their building. How is that going to happen?

The stakes are pretty high for the protesters. They want to serve as a new model for how cities operate so there is a lot of incentives for them to keep things orderly and peaceful and to keep things friendly with the wider city services (sanitation, firefighters, utilities, etc.). It would also be relatively easy for agents provocateur to infiltrate and sabotage. Plus, lest we forget, there is still a global pandemic going on. A lot depends on the quality of leadership coming out of there.

As the NY Times article makes clear, there are lots of eyes on them now also.