to write—a lot of profanity, you know, “F You Police,” “Defund Police” and all that. People came with different colors, and then before you knew it, the entire statue was covered with graffiti, and it’s just crazy and ridiculous. It’s a work of art—it’s so beautiful.
ANONYMOUS, 25 SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Outside of the East Precinct is where there were these daily protests, lots of tear gas. Eventually, one day, the police just packed up and left. And it’s kind of interesting: no one will admit to having given the order to abandon the precinct. We think it was the police union actually telling officers not to show up to work there. But yeah, so they left one day. There had been a 24-hour protest there already, basically, so when they went away people were just there in the street, thinking, “Oh, okay, now we have this.” And I think what really got it started was the mutual-aid groups that were taking donations. There’s a big park right there, and you could get free food there, in the park. So people started camping and it became just a protest that never ended.
The idea for the autonomous zone—it had many different names, but there was graffiti that started popping up that said, “Welcome to Free Capitol Hill,” and I think that people were very excited by that concept. It was a really exciting experiment in mutual aid, in cooperation. For my involvement, I volunteered a bit. I picked up trash. I moved supplies around. I painted. I unloaded cars, and sometimes I was just there to witness it and listen to speakers and things like that. I remember being there the night before the police abandoned the area, and they had brought some trucks in and started moving things out. But no one thought that they were just going to leave.
The atmosphere was jubilant at that time, and there was no organization to it. None. I mean, these protests were not like the kind that are organized by the civil society groups in Seattle, these were just people showing up from Twitter, basically. As far as I’m aware, the whole time, there was never even really an attempt at governance. It wasn’t even really like Occupy, where people were trying to make decisions. I never saw a real political vision coming from it, other than that we were going to provide services that the state