Amidst growing calls for police defunding or abolishment, many of us have been left to wonder – what would a society without law enforcement look like? Welcome to CHOP, the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest community where the police brutality is non-existent and the vibes are wholesome.
Blossoming from an abandoned Seattle police station, the ever-expanding community has become a hub for the Black Lives Matter movement. A “No-Cop Co-Op” market providing free grocery items lines the street, active composting from hitch trailers has created a small series of community gardens, altars honouring victims of police violence emerge everyday, and the chain fence of the old station is covered in protest art. With a universal mantra of inclusivity and love, CHOP is giving a reassuring face to the President’s persistent anxiety cry of “anarchy.”
Despite what Trump reminds us, Seattle’s first autonomous community is flourishing. Capitol Hill’s CHOP is a haven of love, respect, and equality.
CHOP’s entire existence is a testament to Black Lives Matter. Prior to its inception, the Capitol Hill police station was wrought by ongoing protests and riots right outside its door, forcing officers to close up shop on June 8th. The boarded up windows didn’t stay shut for long, as citizens quickly flocked to the authoritarian blind spot.
You will find people of all backgrounds, genders, ages, and physical abilities in this autonomous quasi-village, the only rule being active participation in the ongoing fight for love and equality. “This is what love and unity looks like,” 32-year-old Anthony told Rolling Stone while watching CHOP’s 100 strong general assembly.
Protest imagery and art lines the streets, with George Floyd’s final words “I Can’t Breathe” and the message “LOVE + RAGE: BLM” spray painted on US flags. The community is even kept safe by 20 volunteer medics, who’ve set up their first aid services near a popular Mexican restaurant.
16-year-old Nim and 20-year-old Jordan moved into one of CHOP’s 80 park tents as a way to support people of colour. “Everyone is looking out for each other…it’s the opposite of violent,” Nim told Rolling Stone. “It’s a bit of a sanctuary,” Jordan agrees.
Find out more about CHOP here.