Portland Protesters Abandon Seattle-Style ‘Autonomous Zone’

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
June 12, 2020Updated: June 13, 2020

Protesters in Portland have abandoned their own “autonomous zone,” reported to be similar to the one set up in Seattle, according to the Portland Police and multiple reports.

Hundreds of people were filmed by Portland Mercury reporter Blair Stenvick trying to erect a fence in downtown Portland, reportedly with the aim of setting up an area like the seven-block zone in Seattle, dubbed the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

Seattle’s autonomous zone was established when staff at the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, which was the site of violent clashes with protesters, secured the facility, removed barricades, and essentially left the protesters to police themselves.

Epoch Times Photo
A sign is seen on a barrier at an entrance to the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” in Seattle, Wash., on June 10, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Portland police said in a statement recounting the overnight demonstrations from Thursday to Friday that there were several groups of protesters, with some becoming unruly.

“Officers observed demonstrators shake the fence and throw several projectiles,” police said, referring to demonstrators who gathered at the fence line at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Main Street.

That group of demonstrators began throwing fireworks at police, prompting a declaration of a civil disturbance.

“There is criminal activity occurring in this crowd. Stop now. If you are a non-violent demonstrator we are encouraging you to leave now,” Portland Police said in a tweet.

“The crowd was given ample opportunity to disperse and were warned if they did not do so, they were subject to arrest or force,” police said, adding that shortly after 11:30 p.m., officers began dispersing the crowd and several arrests were made.

Later, police said the group that gathered in the area of Southwest Main St. and Southwest 3rd Avenue “dispersed on their own at about 2:00 a.m.”

Journalist Sergio Olmos wrote in a tweet: “The fence, in what was looking briefly like the beginnings of an autonomous zone, is now abandoned. A shorter life than the city hall wall.”

The reported moves to erect an autonomous zone in Portland come as Seattle protesters continue to hold onto theirs, with reports of armed enforcers checking IDs of people seeking to enter and extorting businesses within CHAZ.

Epoch Times Photo
An armed volunteer works security at an entrance to the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” in Seattle, Wash., on June 10, 2020. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Raz Simone, rumored to be one of the leaders of one of the groups controlling CHAZ, denied there was any extortion.

“Definitely no extortion, definitely nothing of that,” Simone told local outlet KOMO News. “We’ve invited people to come in.”

In the wake of the situation in Seattle’s autonomous zone, President Donald Trump called on Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee to “take back” the city.

Trump said Inslee and Durkan “are being taunted and played at a level that our great Country has never seen before.”

“Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will. This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!” he added in a statement on social media.

Inslee told Trump in response that “a man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business.”

“Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker,” Durkan responded to Trump’s tweet.

Trump said in a later tweet: “Domestic Terrorists have taken over Seattle, run by Radical Left Democrats, of course. LAW & ORDER!”

Barricades viewed by a reporter with NTD Television, an Epoch Times affiliate, included the phrase, “Public safety means no cops on our streets.”

The East Precinct building entrance sign was painted over to say “Seattle People Department.”

Epoch Times Photo
The boarded up Seattle Police Department East Precinct inside the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle, Wash., on June 10, 2020. (Ernie Li/NTD Television)

Heather Mac Donald, fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “The War on Cops,” told The Epoch Times on June 8 that people who resort to what she called “left-wing fun and riot revolutionary tactics” in seeking social change often fail to consider the lasting damage.

“It’s not going to be there,” she said of the stability and predictability that’s needed for society to function. She said what would emerge in place of law and order is “poverty, despair, uncertainty.”

“Can you get anything at your grocery store? Can you walk outside at night? Will there be restaurants? All of that is now in severe jeopardy,” she said.

“Cities cannot operate with this level of fear,” she added.

The people and groups controlling CHAZ have published a 30-point list of demands. These include abolishing the Seattle Police Department and reparations for victims of police brutality.

Correction: A previous version misidentified the reporter who filmed the footage in Portland. The Epoch Times regrets the error.