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News Analysis Jan 19, 2021 8:20 PM EST

EXCLUSIVE: Text messages show coordination between Seattle officials and the 'warlord' of 'autonomous zone'

Text messages from the City of Seattle show direct communication between Seattle officials and Solomon "Raz" Simone, the "warlord" of this summer's "autonomous zone."

EXCLUSIVE: Text messages show coordination between Seattle officials and the 'warlord' of 'autonomous zone'
Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA

This article was published more than 1 year ago, information might not be up to date.

Text messages newly obtained by The Post Millennial from the City of Seattle show direct communication between Seattle officials and Solomon "Raz" Simone, the "warlord" of this summer's "autonomous zone" in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of the city.

Raz Simone, 30, is a rapper who opened for Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on their 2016 tour. In the summer of 2020, he received national attention for videos showing him armed to the teeth and patrolling Seattle’s "autonomous zone," assaulting people and giving out AR-15's from the trunk of a Tesla.

The occupation of Capitol Hill began in June, when Seattle abandoned the heavily vandalized East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to the occupiers who had rioted there nightly following the death of George Floyd.

Rioters commandeered barriers left behind by the SPD and created their own "autonomous zone" where police, and anyone who they deemed a threat, was not welcomed. The zone was finally dismantled by the Seattle Police Department almost a month later.

During the armed occupation of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Simone led marches, gave speeches to the protesters and acted as spokesman for the occupation with the media.

Mainstream media, including the New York Times and CNN, tried to portray Simone as a social justice warrior. Forbes wrote, "Simone wants to stand up for what's right. He's appalled by the brutal and militaristic tactics used by the police, as they abuse tear gas, flash bombs, gestapo tactics, rubber bullets and other measures with such impunity."

Even with videos of Simone's alleged violence widely circulation on social media, and an extensive rap sheet city officials continued coordinating with the "warlord."

According to the texts, Seattle Fire Department Chief Harold Scoggins was relaying a conversation he had with Simone to other city officials. Scoggins volunteered to act as a go between for safety of the buildings and the streets after activists refused to negotiate with Seattle police.

Scoggins told Seattle Deputy Mayor Michel Fong "Here is what I sent him. I will let you know if I hear back. Raz, I just got word that 4 people just broke the door at SPD and entered the building. A way to keep SPD out of the space is the secure that building during the protest. Can you guys work with us on that?"

Stephanie Formas, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan's chief of staff responds, "Also, let Raz know East precinct. They disabled the door locks so they can't be locked," before asking if Scoggins has received any updates from Simone.

Scoggins replies that there was no response from Simone and then references another conversation with the 'warlord' where he had asked Simone to secure a door at the abandoned East Precinct. "If Raz put people securing that door, he kept his word from when I talked with him last night."

When The Post Millennial interviewed Simone during the occupation, an electronic garage door of the precinct was malfunctioning behind him, continuously going up and down, and appeared as if it had been tampered with. Another door which was padlocked had been broken into. It is unclear which door Scoggins is referring to but there were activists guarding the garage door during the Post Millennial interview.

Following the dismantling of the occupied zone, police found that the precinct had been broken into by occupiers and vandalized.

The city told The Post Millennial that texts directly between Scoggins and Simone were not available because "Chief Scoggins' phone was completely wiped in the early fall and replaced due to a technical problem."

A Seattle official of public disclosure said when releasing the texts that, "I expanded my search to include records that had been produced in previous disclosure requests in other departments, which did turn up a text message exchange between Chief Scoggins and several members of the Mayor's staff. In that text message, he quotes a previous text exchange with Mr. Simone."

Co-ordination between the armed occupiers and the city has been well documented by The Post Millennial. The City of Seattle spent over $500,000 dollars in tax payer funds to secure the "autonomous zone" for the occupiers from from the city itself.

The militant occupiers who cordoned off the Capitol Hill neighborhood as their own demanded city support, and the city provided it. Sanitation facilities, materials for barriers, the erection of cement boundaries, and personnel costs contributed to this sum. This boondoggle can be added to the $300 million revenue shortfall Seattle was already facing from coronavirus business closures.

According to invoices and work orders, Seattle spent $405,734 on just labor hours and vehicles, installing barriers for the occupiers as well as switching out the barriers for alternative materials when the barriers did not meet the occupiers' approval. Police barriers were swapped for water barriers, which were swapped for planters, which were swapped for concrete barriers.

It has also been revealed that the Seattle City Council is using a loophole to circumvent the bidding process and has appropriated 3 million dollars to "non-profit" organizations that were part of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (CHOP). These organizations lobbied the Council to defund the Seattle Police Department and use the money for "community programs." This money appears to be more of a political payoff to the occupiers than investing in the community.

As previously reported by The Post Millennial, during the occupation, Mayor Jenny Durkan tweeted praise and encouragement to protesters, and told CNN it could be a "summer of love." Durkan even compared the CHOP to a block party. City Council members supported the occupation and continued to try and create a narrative of a "peaceful protest."

Almost immediately, violence increased in CHOP, including assaults, shootings, rapes and robberies, leaving two black teenagers dead and several others wounded. Emails obtained earlier this year by The Post Millennial show that the city knew about the dangers in CHOP, yet continued to push the false narrative of peace.

Multiple lawsuits against the city by those affected by the 'autonomous zone' are proceeding.

The city may have even funded their own occupier. In November of 2019, the City of Seattle awarded Simone an $83,250 grant to build a recording studio at his label Black Umbrella.

At the height of his notoriety as the "warlord" of the "autonomous zone" Simone disappeared from the spotlight, mid way through the armed occupation. A new in-depth expose from KUOW may explain why,  describing allegations that have surfaced from two different women accusing Simone of domestic violence and pimping. Allegations that were backed up by court documents and witness testimony. According to KUOW, other activists knew of the alleged abuse and publicly called Simone out for it during the occupation.

The mayor's office has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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