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Since the mayor ejected police from the area, protesters have created their own security force. It’s led by Raz Simone, a bejeweled rapper whose favorite instrument is an AK-47 with its distinctive curved magazine, though he also straps a handgun low on his hip as a backup and fashion accessory. Mr. Simone can be seen in a YouTube video handing an AR-15 from his Tesla’s trunk to a young man he’s deputized. Mr. Simone’s posse laughs and jumps out of the way as their newest recruit tries removing his loaded rifle’s magazine while raising his weapon. Another member of this People’s Constabulary swills a Corona.

Mr. Simone and his deputies are later seen taking up station near the Autonomous Zone’s perimeter. After consulting with nearby civilians, one of the crew tells his chief, “They want to know why the guns tonight.” Mr. Simone answers, “The energy is high right now . . . possible threats or whatever,” before adding, “A little bit of education as well.”

In a revealing podcast with his cousin, Mr. Simone says, “I’m naturally an alpha male. I’m a protector.” He’s not a warlord, he says, but someone who selected himself to replace the police. Incredulous, he says city officials are going along with it: “They’re treating me like I’m the f— mayor!” At a moment when protesters across the country are criticizing inadequate police training, this seems more than a little ironic.

Despite Mr. Simone’s presence, all is not peaceful in the zone after dark. For example, on Sunday night owners of an auto garage on the zone’s edge caught a man burglarizing the business and trying to set it on fire. The Capitol Hill Seattle blog reported that dozens of protesters rallied outside the building, pushed through its fence, and freed the thief.

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