Antifa has returned to Cal Anderson Park in Seattle, and in addition to barricading the area, agitators have reportedly seized a yellow house nearby, staging an “occupation” in the name of Black Lives Matter, indigenous rights, and free housing for everyone. Nearby, a car burst into flames after someone allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into it. This latest agitation seems to echo the infamous and deadly Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) from the summer.
Antifa settled into a house on 11th Avenue and East Denny Way after police had planned to sweep a homeless camp at Cal Anderson Park, local radio host Jason Rantz reported. The homeless camp made the park “dangerous and unusable.” Trash and used needles have collected in the area and repeat offender Travis Berge allegedly stabbed his girlfriend to death before dying in the park himself. Fires have broken out in the park, police reported an assault against an officer, and park workers have reportedly faced threats.
Seattle decided to take action, but when antifa got word of the plan, activists organized an occupation. They erected a large barricade around the encampment and sezied the house nearby in an “occupation” protest. Unbeknownst to the activists, authorities had postponed the sweeps.
Agitators, many in the iconic black bloc of antifa, walked back and forth to the yellow house. Neighbors said a developer owns the house and that the house has been sitting empty for months.
MAKING THEMSELVES RIGHT AT HOME: People dressed in all black are now walking back and forth from Cal Anderson Park into this house on Denny Way. It is turning into another staging area. Neighbors say a developer now owns the house and it’s been sitting empty for months.@komonews pic.twitter.com/wFWZKfS796
— Jonathan Choe Journalist KOMO News (@choeshow) December 17, 2020
On Thursday, the antifa agitators held a press conference announcing the demands of the “occupation.” The demand statement condemns a petition from Seattle businesses asking authorities to sweep the homeless encampment at Cal Anderson Park.
“Businesses demonize and dehumanize the most under represented members of our communities as the source of their financial woes,” the demand statement reads. It makes four demands: that the businesses rescind the petition and letter or that citizens boycott the businesses involved; that the city “house all members of every encampment mentioned in the letter/petition for the entire duration oft he pandemic at the very least” (emphasis original); that Seattle permanently end all sweeps; and lastly, “permanent housing for ALL.”
At least the occupiers aren’t demanding anything radical, right?
“Housing is a human right. You can not sweep away the human beings that our capitalist society deems ‘undesirable’. These systemic injustices must be dealt with by top down reform or they will be met with bottom up dismantlement,” the demand statement adds. “The government is meant to be by and for teh people, not just the people with the monty. Poverty is not a crime and it should not be treated as such.”
Naturally, the antifa document claims “solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” recognition of the “stolen indigenous land on which we all live,” and condemnation for “the destruction of the environment to feed the ever greedy maw of capitalism.”
Gary Horcher shared a photo of the abandoned house in the occupation. Antifa erected signs in front of the house reading, “1 in 10 Apartments are EMPTY 200,000 Vacant ROOMS HOUSE ALL PEOPLE!” “Stop the Sweeps Housing First! Public Safety = Housing4 All!” and “11,751 Houseless People in Seattle 130 People Have Died this year.”
A group who took over an abandoned yellow house on 11th and Denny is about to hold a news conference to list their demands on behalf of the people living in #CalAndersonPark. We are still waiting for a federal decision on whether the city can sweep the camp. pic.twitter.com/gjkYzwss0o
— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) December 18, 2020
While homelessness is a serious problem, antifa’s purported “solution” — government-mandated “permanent housing for all” — would wreak havoc on the housing industry and penalize those who own property. It sounds noble to say that everyone deserves housing, but the institution of private property creates incentives for landowners to make the best use of their property and make money by providing housing to others.
Antifa’s demand for “permanent housing for all” would entail a massive government expropriation of real estate with disastrous consequences.
It seems unlikely this occupation will succeed in that goal, however. Federal Judge Richard A. Jones denied the attempt at a Temporary Restraining Order, clearing the way for the city to sweep Cal Anderson Park. One way or another, this autonomous zone will likely share the fate of CHAZ.
The damage has already started to spread. The Post Millennial’s Andy Ngo reported that a car near Cal Anderson Park broke into flames, apparently from a Molotov cocktail.
A car was completely engulfed in flames next to the autonomous zone in Seattle overnight. A witness said it was set on fire when someone threw a Molotov cocktail at it. pic.twitter.com/01mP3exDS1
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) December 18, 2020
Antifa and Black Lives Matter succeeded in seizing six city blocks of Seattle in June, arguably acting like the Paris Commune of 1871 (which Karl Marx called an example of the “Dictatorship of the Proletariat”). While Gov. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Mayor Jenny Durkan originally insisted that it would be “illegal and unconstitutional” to shut down a lawless rebellion Durkan dubbed “the summer of love,” the Democrats changed their tune after CHAZ wreaked havoc on life in Seattle.
Sixteen residents and businesses sued the City of Seattle, alleging that the city failed to protect their rights by not taking action to restore law and order in the CHOP area. In late June, two deadly shootings on two subsequent weekends took the lives of a 19-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy, both of them black.
Durkan finally broke up the autonomous zone. President Donald Trump later revealed that he had pressured Durkan to act. Will he do the same for this yellow house “occupation”? Will more people have to die before Durkan finally takes action?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.