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'I don't want to get killed by these Antifa people': Seattle resident speaks out about life in occupied zone

"I own property here," the man said by way of identifying himself, and added he "would rather not get into it. I don't want to get killed by these Antifa people."
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

Seattle's autonomous zone was cleared by police this morning, but it's been an armed occupation for weeks. While police went about their business trying to remove those protestors turned occupiers who were unwilling to leave the area, a reporter asked a local resident what the experience has been like in the zone during this time.

"I own property here," the man said by way of identifying himself, and added he "would rather not get into it. I don't want to get killed by these Antifa people."

But he was interested in speaking his mind. "I just have to tell you that, being a long time resident here, owner. And very understanding of the political message that was trying to be conveyed, this whole situation has just been totally out of hand."

"The disconnect between the mayor and the city leaders and the residents and the businesses has just been terrible. I don't understand why there isn't any communication. I mean we were left in the dark, from one day to the next we didn't know what was going on. Just poor, poor leadership.

"I'm just incredibly discouraged that residents and businesses here, people that have lived here and paid taxes forever, and everything continues to cost more. Yet there's no leadership, there's no communication, and that was just incredibly dejecting—discouraging."

He was asked what the experience has been like in the Capitol Hill area.

"It's been terrible, it's been loud at night. During the day, these people seem to be relatively calm, but I've been down here almost every day, and I've seen a lot of weird stuff. A lot of assault weapons, a lot of anger, a lot of drugs and drinking. So it hasn't been a very positive thing.

"I mean the message was kind of lost weeks ago. So we basically had a homeless encampment here, and people with no direction. It just was tough to see, and kids getting shot—kids getting killed. Total mayhem.

"And like I said where is the leadership? Where is the city leadership?"

He was asked if he and others felt like they were being held hostage by the occupiers.

"Definitely, most certainly. And I just think it's unfair. It was totally unfair. And a lot of people don't want to talk. A lot of people are worried and scared and they don't want to express their opinion because they're worried about retribution. And I don't blame them."

The area in the Capitol Hill neighbourhood of Seattle's downtown was the location of mass protests after the police killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. Protestors mixed with Antifa militants from the John Brown Club, as well as with local artists turned armed occupiers like Raz Simone.

It was on the night of June 9 that City Council Member Kshama Sawant led protestors to take over City Hall. Rioting ensued shortly thereafter that resulted in the Seattle Police Department's abandoning of the East Precinct. The leaders in Seattle encouraged the protestors to further engulf the Capitol Hill area in protests, and they have done until only recently.

Demands emerged from the occupiers as city leaders capitulated to that laundry list, and brought in resources and sanitation facilities in order to appease the mob. Mayor Jenny Durkan called compared the protests to the city's annual block party, and notoriously quipped that Seattle could experience a "summer of love."

It was only after shootings two deaths, a massive increase in crime and assaults, and the city's inability to tamp down the unrest that led to this morning's clearance of the zone. Or perhaps it was Sawant leading a protest in front of the mayor's house that got the job done.

Either way, the city of Seattle and its mayor have much to answer for.

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Libby Emmons
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