The CHAZ is a distillate of the self-activity of protesters. What has happened here is that in the midst of struggle, the ruling-class power has just evaporated, at least in this very small corner of Seattle. The people have been left to fill the void themselves. People have taken a political leap and are exploring its consequences.
The Floyd rebellion is changing the world before our very eyes. What type of change and to what degree it will shift the balance of forces between rulers and ruled, haves and the have-nots remains to be seen. What is clear is that there is an active and open political contest to shape the outcome.
The pursuit of justice has been defined by a rote binary of punished in a cage versus unpunished and free. This situation shapes the demand for traditional, state-sanctioned, prison-based punishment even of killer cops. And yet within the language of vengeance or retribution toward police who kill, there is also a hidden desire for another way, for a way out.
On June 4th, the Barclays meeting point appeared to undergo the legendary transformation of quantity into quality, possibly as a consequence of the repeated contact and exchange, over the course of days that felt like months, among protesters on the ground. In fact, at Barclays on June 4th, one could glimpse the first signs of a political subjectivity emerging through still-embryonic and spontaneous processes of self-activation.
Today, when protestors shout “no justice, no peace,” we should understand this as a political principle which takes primacy over the abstract conception of a “peaceful protest.” No protest is unambiguously peaceful, for if it is oriented strategically and organizationally towards the transformation of society, it will necessarily constitute a disturbance of the peace.