During the lifespan of the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, there were persistent reports of individuals and businesses in the area being shaken down for protection money. The self-appointed radical “leaders” of the new “nation” allegedly demanded payment in return for allowing individuals to continue to conduct business on “their” soil. The CHAZ is no more, but there are some indications that the art of the shakedown may still be alive and well amongst the “comrades” on the streets of Seattle.
On July 22, 2020, Antifa rioters gathered on the streets of Capital Hill in Seattle, not far from the area previously known as the CHAZ. They then marched through the streets of Seattle moving methodically from business to business working off a list that had been compiled and disseminated earlier. They did not randomly attack every business they encountered nor engage in random destruction. They systematically attacked a select group of businesses including a local marijuana distributorship called “Uncle Ike’s”, “Rove,” a vintage clothing store owned by the wife of a Seattle police officer, two banks and a local Whole Foods.
At “Uncle Ike’s” anarchists smashed in windows, threw in an incendiary device and then set the business on fire. At “Rove” after the rioters smashed their way in they dragged merchandise out into the street and torched it. During the attacks, lasers were used to blind security cameras and obscure the identities of the perpetrators.
In advance of the attacks, local residents received flyers stuck in the windshields of their cars advertising the riot as a protest/event. Facebook pages linked to Antifa also promoted the riots and provided a list of businesses deemed enemies by Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and associated Marxist groups in Seattle. While at this point virtually any free-market enterprise could be characterized as being “an enemy of the people” by our homegrown Maoists, there are some strong indications that these attacks may have had a more prosaic and traditional motivation. Money.
A coalition of leftist organizations known as King County Equity Now (KCEN) has been pushing for some time the “Pay the Fee” initiative in Seattle. According to KCEN, which is also one of the key groups seeking the defunding of the Seattle Police Department, all businesses which operate in underprivileged or minority areas of the city of Seattle should have to pay a fee to the “people” for the privilege of doing business in those areas. Only a few weeks before the attack on “Uncle Ike’s” there was, in fact, a rally sponsored by KCEN in front of the business. That rally was advertised widely under the headline “Pay the Fee.”
According to the owner of “Uncle Ike’s,” Ian Eisenberg, prior to the attack on his business, he was told directly on many occasions that he needed to “donate” money if he wanted to avoid trouble. “We were told that if we didn’t ‘Pay The Fee’ we would be forced out of the CD by any means necessary and that night we had an arson,” Eisenberg said.
In addition to defunding the police and requiring business owners to “Pay the Fee”, KCEN also wants an end to what it calls “gentrification,” an end to the assignment of Seattle Police Department officers to public schools and the dismissal of all charges against “protestors” arrested in recent events in Seattle. Graffiti spray-painted on the businesses attacked on July 22, 2020, specifically included the tag “Gentrifier.”
The payment of protection money is a time-honored practice near and dear to the hearts of thugs the world over. Anytime and anywhere the rule of law breaks down and anarchy prevails those individuals willing to use intimidation and force are going to emerge and take advantage of the situation. It is for precisely this reason that civilizations the world over have adopted laws and put in place police forces and criminal justice systems to enforce those laws.
What has been set loose on the streets of Seattle and Portland and countless other American cities is anarchy and chaos. That is no accident. Men and women whose aim is to completely destroy the existing economic, political, and social system intend to exploit this chaos to achieve their aims.
In the process, it will be average Americans, trying to make a living and live their lives, who will be the victims. They will be left to fend for themselves, powerless against the mob, stripped of the protection of the police and our courts and forced now to turn to the thugs who control the streets for protection.