For more than a week, demonstrators have taken up occupancy in a six-block section of downtown Seattle, in what one United Church of Christ pastor has called “an organic expression rising from people’s hearts in response to the murder of George Floyd.”
The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, or the CHAZ as locals call it, grew up after the Seattle police department boarded up and vacated its precinct in the area last week as officers and protestors clashed during demonstrations for racial justice.
Since then there has been a lot of speciation about what’s happening in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The Rev. Greg Turk, pastor of All Pilgrims Christian Church, said he had messages with people wondering if “terrorists had taken over Seattle.” So he walked the five blocks from the church to the CHAZ the evening of June 12, to check things out.
Though barricades mark some of the entrances to the CHAZ, Turk said the gathering seems “overwhelmingly peaceful.” There are lots of tents, some community gardens, and people “with a commitment to dismantle systemic racism, to invest in finding new ways to be in community together.”
In this message to the church he reflects on how followers of Jesus seek to find a new vision, a new understanding, a new way to be Christ’s body in this time of uncertainty. Is there something to be learned from the CHAZ?