Ah, the summer of love. As you probably remember, back in 2020 after the death of George Floyd a group of revolutionaries seized a portion of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle and proclaimed it an autonomous zone, meaning no police or other law enforcement was allowed. And as you probably also remember, that experiment in a world without police didn’t start or end well. In fact, the last straw was the death of a 16-year-old named Antonio Mays.
Mays wasn’t from Seattle but had heard all the hype about the CHAZ/CHOP in the media and set forth from his home in California because he wanted to be a part of history in the making. Days later he’d been shot dead and to this day no one has been arrested or charged for his murder. Now his family is suing the city:
Antonio Mays Sr. and his attorney, Evan Oshan, say the 16-year-old was in California when he saw the headlines about CHOP.
“Calling it the summer of love, and how they were just protesting up there and what have you,” said Mays.
“He was here to participate in something bigger than him. Something that was going to change things to make the world a better place. And he was greeted by this insane situation up on Capitol Hill,” said Oshan.
Oshan claims city leadership failed to provide legally obligated emergency services to protesters demonstrating in CHOP.
You may also remember that despite CHAZ/CHOP being a police free zone, it quickly was dominated by a self appointed “warlord” named Raz Simone who took over the job of dispensing justice for perceived crimes. According to the Seattle Times, the lawsuit is aimed at Simone as well. But Simone apparently now agrees with the lawsuit, at least the part of it aimed at the city.
The family’s tort claim also implicates Solomon “Raz” Simone, a local Seattle hip-hop artist, for his role as a “de facto police chief,” after the desertion of the East Precinct on Capitol Hill. While Oshan names Simone in the claim, he said the onus falls on city leadership for not intervening when Simone was allegedly handing out an assault rifle to his “makeshift police force.”
Simone said he had nothing to do with the death of Mays Jr., and that he only handed one gun out to his friend as a joke. This exchange, in which Simone handed a person an assault rifle from the trunk of a white Tesla, was captured in a YouTube video that became the center of controversy when it went viral.
“I don’t think that they’re wrong for coming at the [city of Seattle] like that at all,” Simone said. “I think that they’re wrong with how they’re trying to portray me.”
Back in July, 2020 the Seattle Times published a detailed investigation into the death of Antonio Mays Jr. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time:
So how did this happen? The Times spoke to a man in his 30s who doesn’t want to be identified. He says he was beaten up that night around 2:30 am by two men. He gave the men the keys to his white Jeep Cherokee in order to get them to stop. “I have a car, just take my car,” he told them.
The two men, presumably Mays and his 14-year-old companion, began driving the car and for some reason people inside the CHOP were convinced they were shooting at people from inside. But the carjacking victim says he never saw any weapons on his attackers and no one claims to have been shot or injured by gunfire coming from the vehicle.
Did Mays and his companion shoot at anyone? Did they even have weapons? It’s not clear and Police Chief Carmen Best said at the time that people were in and out of the Jeep long before police showed up, so any evidence or absence of evidence is suspect. Police have said that it’s clear several people fired shots into the Jeep.
The Times doesn’t draw any firm conclusions but the picture they paint of what happened that night suggests that protesters may have misunderstood what was happening. Shots were fired but they might not have come from the Jeep. There were lots of armed people walking around the CHOP. Security people were convinced the CHOP was under attack and targeted the Jeep as the source of the shots. But again, it’s not clear they really were under attack or that Mays and his passenger even had weapons.
I don’t know if Mays carjacked someone or if he had a weapon at all. What I do know is that the people who murdered him deserve to be behind bars, but because they are all part of this social-justice, anti-police cult that took over Capitol Hill, no one is going to talk to police. I also know that this situation would never have escalated if not for the city’s decision to pull back and hand control of several square blocks to these people. The CHAZ/CHOP should never have been allowed to happen and my own take from having followed it closely at the time is that the Police Chief was against it from the start but Mayor Durkan didn’t want to offend any BLM protesters no matter what they did to the city.