Earlier this week, historic St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., was vandalized when protestors spray-painted “BHAZ” on the church’s 204-year-old columns, according to the Episcopal News Service.
“BHAZ” refers to “Black House Autonomous Zone,” modeled after the Seattle-based movement called “Capitol H”.
“There will never be an ‘Autonomous Zone’ in Washington, D.C., as long as I’m your President. If they try they will be met with serious force!” Trump posted a tweet.”
The church has become a focus of debate between the President and protesters. Only a few weeks before this time, the church’s nursery basement was set ablaze by rioters.
Cabinet officials and the President, holding a Bible, walked from the White House to the church the next day to show strength, though some saw the move as improper.
Moreover, according to Washington Post, rioters tried to pull down a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park on Monday. Several protesters linked arms around the statue, chanting “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Andrew Jackson’s got to go.”
More than 150 police officers and a low-flying helicopter stopped the crowd from overturning the statue.
President Trump tweeted: “Numerous people arrested in D.C. for the disgraceful vandalism, in Lafayette Park, of the magnificent Statue of Andrew Jackson, in addition to the exterior defacing of St. John’s Church across the street. 10 years in prison under the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act. Beware!”
Time to go home
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan will shut down CHAZ in the evenings.
According to The Christian Post Durkan said: “It’s time for people to go home, it is time for us to restore Cal Anderson and Capitol Hill so it can be a vibrant part of the community,”
The Mayor, who once encouraged the protest, believes surrounding businesses and residents have endured too much. Inside the zone, two people have been seriously hurt and a 19-year-old boy, Horace Lorenzo Anderson, was shot and killed. Others have given reports of robberies and rapes.
The protestors are staying at an abandoned Seattle Police Department East Precinct building, which has since been renamed as “Seattle People Department,” as reported by the Seattle Times. Durkan hopes to disperse the protest with suggested hours of 8 a.m. to 8 p.m, as well as give out resources for homeless people in the area.
Saving a life
Last week, Seattle City Council prohibited police from using tear gas, a move that Police Chief Carmen Best believes led to the death of Anderson.
“A life might have been saved if not for the circumstances created by hasty legislation,” Best remarked. “Right now what officers have is their riot batons and their handguns and that is not sufficient.”
Although council member Lisa Herbold presumes tear gas would have been unnecessary in the situation. Residents of the Capitol Hill district in Seattle are expressing concerns that the protest is distracting.
“The message of Black Lives Matter is being exploited,” a woman who feared retaliation and refused to give her name to the Seattle Times remarked. “It’s not a street fair. It’s disheartening. There’s a lack of integrity.
The Historical Church
Every sitting president has attended the St. John’s Church at least once since it was built in 1816, starting with James Madison. With the exception of Richard Nixon, every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has attended spiritual services on Inauguration Day, many at St. John’s Church. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960.