Inside CHAZ

“Put your boots where your mouth is.” That’s a phrase I like to use to call out the difference between the “online activism” that is a lot of what passes for politics today, and the “real work” which involves going out in the street, showing up at events and protests and building relationships when and where they can be built. In my past role as Chair and my current role as Political Director of LPKC, it’s also a set of words that I live by.

Even before I wrote last week’s “CHAZ in Charge?” piece I had plans to go down there to see it. With some additional encouragement from folks online, I went down there this past Sunday, June 14th and this post will offer up a brief report on that, as well as an indication of how my views have changed (in part) on the phenomenon.

Myself and two other individuals met and reconnoitered the area. Two of us were carrying concealed, and I was prominently wearing a “Black Guns Matter” T-Shirt. That got attention right away.

A little bit of heckling, a few people staring and finger-pointing. Free speech in both directions, but no physical confrontation of any kind.

Some Karen-y scolding that two of us weren’t wearing masks. Again, no big deal. We walked around about an hour and took it all in, a few short conversations, but generally peaceful. It’s mostly a campground/street fair atmosphere.

To recap my points from my last post... In principle: Libertarians support and celebrate the resistance of free people against an increasingly intrusive and overbearing State. That’s what this is. We don’t necessarily have to agree with everything going on there or the espoused objectives of (at least some of) the organizers. As long as they’re peaceful and don’t initiate force, I support them. It’s unclear to me whether there’s any real coalescence around the published demands, but neither have I seen (yet) any alternative message.

In practice: Checkpoints do exist. Some are staffed and some are not. Saw no visible firearms or other weapons during my visit. I am told anecdotally that at night it may be a different story, but I stand by my “take what the media says with a grain of salt” statement. The same applies to those anecdotal reports. Some local residents are inconvenienced by the checkpoints.

I’m not going to take two hecklers as indisputable proof that heterodoxy isn’t welcomed in the CHAZ, but there was plenty of silent sneering too. Still, this is free speech, and I have no problem with it, even the “woke” appeals to give a person of color $10.

The State is still the problem, and they’re still allowing this because it suits them to do so. I stand by my statement that a similar action led by those with different politics would not be tolerated.

Libertarians oppose militarized police and the initiation of force. Libertarians support the right to peacefully protest, the right to keep and bear arms while doing so (or not) and in protecting one’s private property.

In short, the CHAZ is fine and nobody appears to be “in charge”, at least based on my experience of it. I remain concerned about the potential for violence, interference with private property rights, and the general political thrust of the movement.

If the aim is to bring awareness to the issues with policing, end qualified immunity and the drug war, great. If the aim is to usher in a “socialist utopia”, we part ways there. If you’re going to try to seize my property or block my access to it, we part ways there. Libertarians support all your freedoms, all of the time, even when we might not like what you’re espousing, so long as you don’t interfere with anyone else’s freedom.