Press Freedom in the #CHAZ: ‘As Long As You’re Not Coming In with a Bias’
Democratic Party activist and journalist Joe Wieser produced a livestream from the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) in Seattle, Washington, on Thursday in which he offered interesting reflections on the state of press freedom in the enclave.
The CHAZ is an area of roughly six blocks that Black Lives Matter activists have occupied as their own since police abandoned the East Precinct building earlier this week. They are demanding that the city abolish the police and provide free college and health care, among other demands.
During his livestream, Wieser documented life inside the CHAZ. At one point, he was asked whether anyone was allowed to broadcast from inside the zone.
He suggested that they would be admitted to CHAZ as long as they did not have a negative “bias” and portrayed a peaceful protest (video below at 1:16:36):
— Omari Salisbury (@Omarisal) June 12, 2020
Is anyone allowed in to do livestreams? That’s a great question. To my understanding, yes, anybody’s allowed to be in this space, again, so long as you don’t show your ass, and you’re not coming to this space to misrepresent what’s happening here, as long as you’re not coming in with a bias that would lead anyone to feel as though what’s happening here is anything other than peaceful. I’m not one to dictate or to gatekeep — I’m just one person — but, again, with some of the more right-wing owned, Sinclair Media, media out here, you might get some pushback.
He singled out local journalist Brandi Kruse from local Fox 13, saying she had covered protests in the Seattle area “horribly” for the last five years.
The livestream showed a peaceful scene, with people strolling about the graffiti-tagged streets, playing music and chatting. At one point Wieser visited a “farm” that had been planted in a local grassy patch, including kale, lettuce, and flowers.
Critics have noted that some activists have been seen on other livestreams using force to patrol the CHAZ. Fox News reports that Seattle police have reported that activists have been attempting to set up checkpoints and to extort local businesses.
President Donald Trump has said that if state and local leaders do not act to restore law and order to the city, he would intervene.
The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees press freedom and applies to the entire territory of the United States.
“This is the future liberals want,” Wieser said, at one point, mocking conservative criticism. “It’s like, ‘Hell, yeah, it is!’”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His new book, RED NOVEMBER, is available for pre-order. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.