Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed #WalkAway Founder and President Brandon Straka to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Straka reflected on his four days undercover in the Seattle CHAZ/CHOP seven-block radius described as an autonomous zone free of government and police. He noted that capitalism was very alive in the zone with people selling items and suggested that these people are more conservative than they think in their quest for limited government.
Leahy: We are joined now by the man from O’Neil, Nebraska. The founder of the WalkAway movement. Brandon Straka. Good morning Brandon.
Straka: Hey, how are you doing?
Leahy: I understand you have some information to report to us about the I don’t know what they call it, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. What is it? The CHOP thing? Tell us a little bit about that.
Straka: Well yes, last week a few members of my team and I went to Seattle and we kind of infiltrated the CHAZ/CHOP zone undercover to try to just gather some information and get some interviews and talk with people and find out where their heads are at and what their intentions are.
First, they were calling it CHAZ which stood for Capital Hill Autonomous Zone. And then for whatever reason, they wanted to change the name to CHOP. Which means Capitol Hill Occupied Protest. And what we found out inside and for anybody that may not know this is the seven-block area in Seattle in which anarchists have completely cornered it off and took over.
And basically insisted that this was a zone that would be free from police. From government. Totally anarchy. So we went inside to try and find out what was going on in there. It was very fascinating. There were things that stood out to most immediately and that struck me was that there was no common philosophy or any common messaging that’s coming from the people inside. They themselves argue with one another quite a lot. There is a lot of inciting. There is a lot of racial division inside the autonomous zone.
Leahy: Hold it. The mayor there Jenny Durkan said it was an example of the summer of love. Is that not right?
Straka: No, it’s not right whatsoever and the footage that I took would show that quite clearly. At one point there was a man who walked, there is a large field there. Like a baseball field which they’ve also taken over and pitched tents all over. But a fully naked man walked out onto the field and he was either a White or Asian man.
It was kind of hard to tell. This became a huge issue for a Black man who was out there on the field. And once the Black man started expressing being upset about this it became sort of the mandatory duty for all of the White people around to make sure that the Black man was not upset any longer.
They went to the naked man (Leahy laughs) tried to eject him from the field and he was refusing to leave. And then at one point the Black man actually attacked the naked man. And all of this I captured on video. When we came out with our cameras then the Black man again became very upset that it was being filmed.
It then began the duty and obligation was split to getting the naked man off the field and getting the people with a video camera off of the field. Yeah, it’s not really like that chill groovy 1960s hippie summer of love kind of feel. It’s more like a dumpster fire kind of feel.
Leahy: Yes. Well apparently the mayor of Seattle Jenny Durkan, did you see this? She’s decided that the summer of love just ain’t happening there. (Laughs) And she’s going to start negotiations with whoever is involved there to shut it down. Did you see that story that just came up late last night?
Straka: I did. I saw that they are trying to dismantle CHOP. And I guess once people start getting murdered and the EMT’s and the public safety officials are unwilling to go inside. This is what they wanted. They wanted an area of the city where they rule and there is no such thing as public assistance. That’s what they got. And now they have dead people on their hands. I mean people were actually murdered inside of there.
Leahy: There was a 19-year-old man shot dead there and one seriously wounded. Did you feel safe when you were there?
Straka: I did. Actually I did. But that’s mostly because we went during the day time. And we were told, I hired bodyguards to go in with me. You have a good amount of knowledge (Chuckles) the deep history of CHAZ. But the bodyguards actually told me that it’s very very dangerous at night time.
And much less dangerous during the day time. What I experienced was mostly just a feel of, honestly, it felt like wandering into a whole section of the city where mentally ill people had taken over. And not everybody. By the way, just to be fair, there were some very very nice people there.
One of the first people that we met was a guy who (Chuckles) had created a lounge area on the street by pulling various pieces of furniture together where people could have conversations about White privilege and Black oppression and things like that. (Leahy laughs)
But he himself was very very nice and was really coming from a good place and wanting to do a good thing. As I said, you wander around and you see all of these little sections that are set up by people, by the way, let me just say, capitalism is alive and well in CHAZ and CHOP.
Straka: People are selling t-shirts. People are selling merchandise. Oh yes. Everywhere you go there is somebody that’s got their hustle on trying to make buck inside of there which I thought was very interesting. The more that I talked with people the more I thought to myself, do you guys realize that you are actually conservatives? Because they want less government.
They want the least amount of government whatsoever involved in their daily lives. They want to be able to live their lives and do what they want free form any sort of tyranny in government and they want to be able to make money inside the CHAZ. I thought to myself, I don’t think you guys are ready for it yet but one day, you will realize that we actually have a lot more in common than you realize.
Leahy: How many security guys did you have with you?
Straka: I had two security guards and then I had three members of my team that came with me to assist in getting footage and doing interviews and photos etc.
Leahy: Is that footage available or will you have it out there in a bit?
Straka: It will be soon. This was a very crazy week for me. I literally went straight from getting that footage that day and then over to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the Trump rally which was incredible. Then the very next day had to drive to Dallas. And I just got back to New York City which is where I live last night. Today I will be dicing up that footage and putting it together. And my goal is to get it out by tomorrow and at the very latest but hopefully tonight.
Leahy: Trump rally?
Straka: I thought the Trump rally was amazing. I encourage people not to listen to the media because they are just doing what they do. I was there. It was a huge stadium. Yes, there were some empty seats in the upper upper level. There were three levels. And the first two levels were completely jammed packed. Then the third level had a scattering of empty seats. I’m reading stories that we’re saying it was half full which is insane.
Leahy: Inaccurate right? It looked to me about two thirds full or three fourths full. With 10 or 11,000 out of 15,000. If you listen to the mainstream media it was a massive failure because it wasn’t full. Then you see the FOX News broadcast. Record broadcast numbers. Seven point seven million people watched it on FOX News Saturday night. A record in the history for FOX News on Saturday night.
Straka: Wow. That doesn’t surprise me at all. But there’s a lot of other factors that people need to take into account too. First and foremost the idea, even if and don’t believe this whatsoever, even if Donald Trump support was waning a bit right now, the idea that Donald Trump would not be able to draw 15,000 people and fill a stadium is absurd. He has millions and millions of supporters from coast to coast.
And people more now than ever with everything that is going on in the country. This has nothing to do with waning support or anything like that. What is has to do with primarily is a couple of things. Nearly every older person in this country supports Donald Trump.
Older people are the most at risk for the coronavirus. There were some that said we’re going to throw caution to the wind right now and we feel like it’s safe. That’s a lot of us that are 55 years or younger are perfectly willing to get into an arena and sit jammed packed next to people. Older people don’t want to do that. And that’s understandable. Not to mention that there were a huge number of Black Lives Matter protesters outside who were threatening and bullying people.
Leahy: Tell us where people can go on the web to learn more about you Brandon.
Straka: You bet, walkawaycampaign.com. You can go on there and find out more information and please give me a follow on social media at Brandon Straka on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Go to walkawaycampaign.com.
Listen to the full third hour:
– – –
Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Background Photo “CHOP Zone” by Alex Glidewell. CC BY-SA 4.0.