We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone

We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Associated Press

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"It's as if three or four full Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s were crashing every day, killing everyone on board, in the US." — Dr. Stephen Thrasher, on the coronavirus, which the federal government and many states seem to have given up on trying to do anything about.



We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone" sign hangs on the exterior of the Seattle Police Departments East Precinct on June 9, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.David Ryder/Getty Images


The great Seattle "police-free zone" experiment.

The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), Seattle's unexpected six-block experiment in police-free living, has incited presidential outrage and gleeful clap-back from Seattle's mayor. The president believes the "ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY," but that's exactly the wrong response.

Whether you believe in the Black Lives Matter cause or not, you should want this test to continue. If the Floyd protests have shown us anything, it's that America needs new models for law enforcement, regulation, and community organizing. CHAZ is one tiny demonstration. We can think of tons of experiments worth trying: no-armed-police zones, no-police-car zones, an-officer-on-every-corner zones...

Let's try 'em all. May there be 1,000 more CHAZzes! — DP

What's really wrong with Trump's rally waiver.


The Trump campaign is requiring that everyone who attends his Tulsa rally sign a waiver promising not to sue if they contract COVID-19.

The waiver illustrates two different conceptions of American freedom. The campaign would correctly argue that anyone who attends the rally — where masks and social distancing will be optional — knowingly assumes the risk of illness, and shouldn't be able to sue. If you're afraid of getting sick, don't go, and if you do get sick, you knew the risks. That is individual liberty at work: You know the risks and take your chances.

But what this view misses is that the risk isn't just to the rally-goers. It's also to the people they later share a restaurant table or store aisle with. Those people have signed no waiver, but have been unwillingly put at risk by a Trump rally just the same.

A broader conception of liberty doesn't focus on the right of the individual to do whatever they want, but rather on the framework of rules and responsibilities that allows all of us to be as free from harm and restraint as possible. Trump's rally fails that test. Rally-goers will be exercising their own individual freedom, but narrowing everyone else's, by endangering their lives, liberty, and happiness. — DP

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We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
A Portland police officer talks to students in the Portland High School hallway in November 2019.Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Unbundle the Police: So how do we Defund the Police, anyway? Perhaps we could start by recognizing that police work is not one job, but a series of vaguely connected activities, few of which require armed enforcement.

The Atlantic's Derek Thompson goes deep on the obvious and yet still brilliant idea that police departments could shrink if much of their work was redistributed to specialists: counselors for the mentally ill and substance abusers, traffic conductors, experts in homeless services, etc. Much of the same work would get done, but the number of tense encounters between citizens and heavily armed law enforcers would plummet. — DP


We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.Ramsey County Sheriff's Office via AP

Should Derek Chauvin be eligible for his pension if he's convicted of George Floyd's murder? Under Minnesota law, he could receive $1.5 million in benefits even if found guilty. Twenty-two states have laws that wipe out pension benefits for a cop convicted of an on-the-job felony, which seems like a sensible reform to us.



We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Why is no one being called out for racism at insurance or pharmaceutical companies?

The Black Lives Matter movement is rapidly disrupting high-profile workplaces. Junior colleagues have banded together to call out systemic racism and objectionable behavior by bosses, behavior long tolerated because it was professionally ruinous to complain.

This has toppled high-profile editors at Bon Appetit, Refinery29, and the New York Times, among other places. It's demolishing Hollywood reputations, threatening the careers of prestigious academics, and forcing restaurants to take a hard look at how they staff and who they feed. Smaller ructions are tarnishing figures in sports and tech.

This is remarkably similar to what happened during #MeToo, when high-profile, PR-sensitive businesses were the ones that had to reckon publicly with sexual harassment. But as during #MeToo, we see striking absences. Public resignations have not rattled finance, or the insurance industry, or the auto industry or the pharmaceutical industry.


We need to remember that these businesses suffer from systemic racism and bad bosses, too. But because they're not dependent on public image the way media and food are, bad behavior may be harder to call out, and harder to wipe out. — DP

Facebook's office-chat software would allow employers to suppress conversations about unionization. Facebook internally demoed Workplace, its Slack competitor, on Wednesday and showed off a feature that enables employers to censor certain topics. The example Facebook presented was "unionization." Whoops. The company told Insider they've paused development on the censoring feature.


We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
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We need more experiments like Seattle's police-free zone
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