A Visit to the CHOP (When it Was Still CHAZ)

It’s rare in my experience that the topic of incendiary national headlines is occurring just down the street–close enough to cease reliance on investigative journalists, and go investigate yourself.

Over the past couple of weeks, news of the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest (or, as it was first known, the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone) was everywhere, and the reports we read on local friends’ social media posts were quite different from those we heard from out-of-state friends and family, or observed if we jumped down the YouTube rabbit hole and looked up national news pieces. (Never have I been so grateful to not have cable.)

I suspect that, as with most things, what you see in these photos will depend mostly on what you look for.

When we visited, the space was calm. Capitol Hill is a neighborhood with a lot of personality, and that personality felt similar to how it usually does: albeit more somber. Jon described the space as feeling a lot like a memorial. I think it felt like the physical embodiment of looking for a way forward. Sometimes we talk about holding space for feelings and processes: this felt quite literally like space held for both pain and healing.

If you have questions about the experience, or what led to this space being used in this way, I’m happy to talk or send you resources that offer better or more thorough reports than I can.

All photos in this post are mine, save for this aerial view of the mural on the street which was taken by Kyle Kotajarvi (@kylekotajarvi). Additionally, due to pandemic concerns, we made our way to the area when we thought it would be relatively quiet.

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