Terrified women say they are scared to go to Seattle’s police-free zone alone after a vile post instructing people to attack them was posted online.
A six-block area of the city’s centre has been turned into an alleged self-sustaining commune and self-policed zone after authorities let activists take it over earlier this month.
Supporters say the zone – known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) and later the Capitol Hill Organised Protest (CHOP) – shows the city’s residents can keep themselves safe, but now it appears the lack of proper policing may be giving criminals food for thought.
One Seattle resident, Aaron Solomon, has even suggested using the zone to lure young women into alleys and “enjoy” them away from the eyes of the police. In an online post – which he has since said was a “dramatisation” – he wrote: “Attention psychopaths, rapists and predators of all kinds.
“Have you ever fantasised about hurting another person – I mean REALLY hurting them? Then listen up.
“At this very moment, in the middle of Seattle, there is a six-block area where there are no police.
“Oh don’t worry, it’s packed full of people – including plenty of YOUNG WOMEN – many of whom are disaffected, and whose disappearance might not be noticed for days or even weeks, if you catch my drift.”
He then goes on to say people should “dress revolutionary chic” and “make a Black Power fist” to be let into the zone.
“Blend into the crowd, get your bearings, pick your prey, lure them into the nearest or abandoned storefront and enjoy.
“If anyone tries to stop you, just tell them your victim is working for the police and it’s a party!”
He signs off by writing: “An opportunity likes this comes once in a lifetime. Don’t miss out.”
The post has since gone viral and women in the city have been sharing it as a warning.
“ATTENTION SEATTLE! I am actually terrified!” one woman wrote alongside a picture of the post on Twitter.
“Please be careful and don’t go to Capitol Hill alone. I can’t even believe that someone typed this out.”
Mr Solomon has since claimed the post was a “dramatisation” and not meant to be taken seriously. He has locked down his social media pages, claiming he has received death threats from far-left protesters.
He said he wrote the “off-the-cuff” post because he was annoyed to see his city “taken over by anarchist criminal low-life scum”.
“If you’re disturbed by my dramatisation of the kinds of predators likely to take advantage of the chaos in the Cap Hill no-police zone, GOOD!” he wrote.
“That was the point of my piece! These anarchists are endangering vulnerable people with their idiot utopian games.”
His fears echo those of US President Donald Trump who claims the city has been taken over by “domestic terrorists”.
Footage has emerged over the past week of a hip-hop artist handing out guns to strangers from the boot of his Tesla.
Raz Simone, 30, is believed to have assumed the role of leader in the rebel state after he was seen urging licensed gun owners to guard the area and allegedly assaulted a protester for disobeying his orders.
The footage from June 10 – two days after the CHOP was established – shows him walking down the street holding one of the guns and two young masked men also holding the weapons.
“We’re just being ready,” he says to the camera in the footage. “We’re not doing anything illegal.”
Despite concerns over the sight of armed grassroots street guards, some have described its atmosphere as more street fair or music festival than a protest.
However, journalist Andy Ngo, who has been reporting from the zone, has described it as a “sort of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” situation.
During the daytime, the area is filled with speakers, information booths, free food and music.
Speakers emphasise three demands that protesters want to see from the city – to defund the Seattle Police Department, invest in the black community and release any protesters arrested during the recent George Floyd protests.
However, when the sun goes down, Ngo said the “criminal elements come out”.
“Unfortunately, last night that was made very clear, when one person on a microphone and a loudspeaker was able to sic a mob of probably more than 100 people to chase down this business that was several blocks away. They just all descended on it. It was pure anarchy,” Ngo told Fox News.
“They pushed up against the fence and all rushed in. It could have been extremely violent,” he said. “Fortunately it wasn’t, according to what I heard from the owner and staff. They had detained one of the comrades of this camp for alleged arson and theft. And, because of that, all of his comrades came to help get him out. The police never came.”
Seattle Police officers have been instructed not to respond to calls for service within the area unless it is in response to a “mass casualty event” like an active shooter, or a structural fire “likely to endanger human lives”.