What Andre Taylor sees, and hopes to prevent, in the CHOP
Pressure is mounting to decide the future of the CHOP protest zone on Capitol Hill. This, after a second deadly shooting there.
Andre Taylor is a community organizer who's been trying to work with both the city and protesters on what happens next. He's the founder of Not This Time!, a nonprofit that advocates for police reform.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Taylor was initially supportive of the CHOP, but after the violence, he's calling for it to end.
I think, when CHOP is remembered, this is just my opinion of it, it will only be remembered as a place where violence occurred. Because no matter what the message is, you cannot just sweep away dead bodies, dead Black bodies, and act like it didn't exist there.
If you are challenging systems because of Black bodies, well Black bodies have been killed in your area. There should be some type of acknowledgement of those Black bodies, and there wasn't enough acknowledgement as far as I'm concerned.
I talked to some of the people at CHOP in the media. I said, I'm very disturbed by the fact that CHOP’s security killed these young boys. Someone corrected me and said ‘You're speaking false again. It wasn't CHOP security.’ And I said, you telling me that makes it worse. Now there's just people around here killing people that you have no control over?
It's a really convoluted situation. There's no sense of direction, in my opinion, and it needs to go, and come to a swift end. Maybe they can re-calibrate and find their messaging once again, find their heart once again, because this was started by George Floyd, this killing.
What do you see as the best-case scenario here for how the situation at CHOP could end peacefully?
I've had meetings with some of the leaders of CHOP and I found out other people said they're not leaders. Then we sat down with the mayor with those people, then other people said the people that we sat down with weren’t leaders -- right?
I was there for the concern of those activists there, Black and brown bodies and telling them this will not end well. Because you're so young, you don't know the history of things of this magnitude that has happened in our past. You guys have guns over here. It's not going to look good. It's not going to be good.
Once we can't talk to you anymore, the authorities are going to send people in that are a little bit more unsympathetic to what you're doing. And if you shoot at them, it's not going to end well for you.
Do you feel this could end violently?
If anyone shoots at law enforcement, it always is going to end with some tragedy. I was there to prevent that from happening. But when you're talking to young people that are very hard-headed, that think they know what they're talking about, that won't take any counsel, that have multiple guns over there -- I’ve seen guns passed yesterday when I was down there, personally -- that’s not a real good situation for them. It's a horrible situation.
For police to know that you have guns up here -- some people have been witnessed with AK-47s -- this is a very volatile situation. I've asked for it to stop a week ago.
I understand the measurement of the mayor and why she wants to make sure that nobody is hurt and injured. And she has done, goddamn, sorry, everything she could do in her power to make sure that doesn't happen. At this point, the city has turned against that patience, and they want to see things get done.
Is there anything that I haven't asked you that you think It's really important for people to be aware of right now?
I'm just hoping that the city, people in this community, go up to this area and try to reason with young folks before young folks get hurt. When I met with the first group, they said you're the only leader that has reached out to us.
I would hope that more people would reach out, because they need to see the end of this thing as well. I'm not talking about one person. I'm talking about 500 if we have to, 1,000 if we have to, that just want to go and love, and say we love you guys, and we understand what you're doing. Let us help you transition out of this place first, though, because this is not a good place, no matter how much you think it.
We come here in love to you, we come here in support, and hopefully to offer you some wisdom, because this is not going to end well. That's what I can hope for right now. I don’t know whether that’s going to happen, but that's what I'm out there doing, and I will continue to do until I can’t do.
Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above.