Saturday, June 13, 2020

So Run The Experiment

     I'm sure you have read about it or seen it on the news: a group of protesters in Seattle took over a few blocks of the city as police evacuated a precinct building.  The protesters blocked the streets and declared it the "Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone."

     My right-wing friends and acquaintances have been chortling over the homeless in that area depleting the "community food supplies" in short order, sharing stories about a self-appointed "warlord" and his well-armed minions, and rumors about entry restrictions and shakedowns of businesses.

     Blogger Joe Huffman -- not a sympathetically-inclined observer -- went and had a look for himself.

     It doesn't appear to be hell on earth.  There are borders, but nobody stationed at the gates.  People stroll in and out.  The would-be warlord and his group appear to have voluntarily stopped carrying guns openly, and he's as clueless as anyone about what happens next.

     They've set up open-air movies and designated smoking areas.  They allowed the city to supply portalets.  It's no paradise; picture a sparser "Occupy Wall Street" encampment, with all that entails, and you're close.

     And yet the Right, from the President on down to the blogger next door, wants to move in and shut it down by force.

     Why?  What is there to fear?

     Did we learn nothing from the brutal razing of the Bonus Army's encampment in Washington, D.C.?  Are there no lessons to be found in the Philadelphia police bombing of the MOVE rowhouse and subsequent tragic fire, in the horrors of Waco or Ruby Ridge?  How many dead people do you want to see on the evening news?

     Indianapolis had a tense standoff at the Indianapolis Baptist Temple in 2001; seems the church and associated school hadn't been withholding Federal income tax from employee paychecks and after a few go-rounds, the Feds moved to seize the buildings and grounds.  The Baptists forted up on the site, U.S. Marshal Frank J. Anderson moved in with his people and--  Waited.  Why not?  The Federal government had demonstrated the folly of frontal assault twice in the previous decade and he was in no hurry to be lucky number three.  The standoff dragged on and on, with a few especially tense moments, but in the end it was resolved quietly, in so unremarkable a manner that the whole thing doesn't even have its own Wikpedia page.

     Cities that pushed back hard on the Occupy Wall Street protesters generally had uglier outcomes than cities that simply managed the situation, mitigated the harm and waited.

     The CHAZ is a not very well-prepared experiment in anarchosyndicalism right out of Ursula K. LeGuin's work, lacking the coherent philosophy of her fictional "Odo,"or, sadly, even advice from the late SF author herself.  As such, it is providing valuable lessons in civic engagement and the actual work involved in running even a small slice of city to the people involved.  Lacking the structure, community spirit and free-standing commercial enterprises of, say, Freetown Christiania, it is unlikely to stand for long; with essentially open borders and city emergency services still having access, it's not even all that separate an entity.

     Let 'em run the experiment.  Who knows, they -- or we -- might even learn something.


waepnedmann said...

Time is on the side of those outside of this enclave to return it to the control of the city officials and property owners.
This is a similar situation to the use of no-knock warrants. The excuses/reasons for no-knock warrants were to prevent the destruction of evidence. The war on drugs was a big factor in using no_knock raids. Flushing evidence used to be the way de jour of getting rid of the stash. There are ways to,prevent that or capture the stash after flushing.
No-knock raids took on a life of their own with the advent of SWAT teams. The mentality prevailed of: "If we got'em why not use'm"? "Good training"!
There are very few reasons in a civilian context to run a no-knock raid above letting the boys and their toys try out their door kicking skills and equipment.
One of the reasons is serving high risk felony warrants.
That can also be handled without kicking the door in at Zero-Dark-Thirty and shooting the dog, killing the "wrong" person, raiding the wrong address, or lobbing flash-bangs into the baby's crib.
The police have forgotten the lessons of history and the tactic of besieging an opposing force.
Years ago I was in a class and the instructor, a gray-haired grandmotherly type, blithely skipped over the actions of the police during the MOVE standoff stating that they accidentally caught a building on fire. She was old enough to know that was not the whole story. I was certainly old enough to know the story. I raised my hand and she recognized me. I said, " They dropped a bomb from a helicopter on the building." She flushed red and said, well yes.
Unless you have a hostage situation and the lives of the hostages are in danger, there are few reasons for dynamic entries.
Time is on the side of the besieger.
Wait them out, starve them out.
But, if lives are in imminent danger send in the door kickers and (using minimum force) waste the SOBs.

Joe said...

Thank you for the link and the post generally agreeing with me.