SEATTLE, WA—Solomon Samuel Simone, widely known as “Raz Simone,” has been called the “warlord” of the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP), which was self-declared as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) on June 8. A Facebook post by Simone from last year talks about how the City of Seattle awarded him a grant worth $83,250.
CHOP is a zone spanning several blocks in Seattle, containing relaxation spaces, plots of land for farming, and community stages. It was established after the police abandoned the area’s East Precinct; Seattle Police Department Chief Carmen Best said that “leaving the precinct was not my decision,” and that “the city had other plans for the building and relented to severe public pressure.” There have been reports of rapes, robberies, extortions of businesses, and the likes.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has expressed her support for CHOP, saying that it “is not a lawless wasteland of anarchist insurrection – it is a peaceful expression of our community’s collective grief and their desire to build a better world.”
Simone’s Facebook post dates back to November 22, 2019. In it, he claims that he was awarded the grant “to supplement the building of a recording studio in the building I bought a… few years ago, Black Umbrella Headquarters.” Simone owns a record label called “Black Umbrella.”
He expressed his feelings for the police and authorities in general, saying that “being a young black man in the streets, it always felt like the city was against me. The government, the police, the whole system of the city.”
“I had happenings with corrupt cops who had it out for me and the situations I was in and put myself in seemed to always have me at odds with the city,” Simone added. “Receiving this, and seeing the city put their money where their mouth is feels far more an honor to receive than a key to the city.”
It is unclear if the studio has been built yet. Simone also allegedly owns guns, a Tesla, a social club, and several multi-million dollar properties.
“This does not by any means right all of the injustices we face and have faced and it for damn sure doesn’t magically put everyone in a better situation just because the city is rockin[g] with me a bit here,” Simone continued. “But it is an amazing start. I can honestly say that the people I’ve worked with on this at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture seem to be genuine in their efforts to fund projects that expand opportunities for communities of color and other communities that have been inequitably served in the past.”