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Who Is Raz Simone? Meet The Seattle Activist And Rapper Accused Of Being A 'Warlord'

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Who Is Raz Simone? Meet The Seattle Activist And Rapper Accused Of Being A 'Warlord'

Even though he was once best known for his music, his active role in The CHAZ — a safe, cop-free protest zone in Seattle, Washington — has earned him some other nicknames, as well. To some, he's known as the sheriff. To others, he's a warlord. And still, to others, he's a terrorist. 

Whatever you may, or may not, think of him, you're definitely talking about him. And this definitely isn't going to be the last time you hear about him. 

Who is Raz Simone?

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He has his own label imprint called Black Umbrella.

Born Solomon Samuel Simone in Seattle, Washington,Simone first started gaining notoriety as a rapper. Under his imprint, Black Umbrella, he released a series of critically-acclaimed songs and albums, including his debut album, Solomon Samuel Simone. He's collaborated with the likes of Pusha T and Jay Park, and has a cooperative agreement with 300 Entertainment, the same imprint that houses Megan Thee Stallion

He was the first to try a "pop-up, drive-in concert."

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Raz Simone made headlines because of his ingenious way of putting on a concert. He established the first-ever pop-up, drive-in concert in the parking lot of the Seattle Center. The concert allowed people to practice social distancing while enjoying his music. Critics opined that this just might be the future of the live concert experience. 

Protestors declared Simone one of the leaders of The CHAZ — but what is The CHAZ?

The CHAZ is the abbreviation for Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and it's located in Seattle. According to protestors in the area, Simone has emerged as one of the leaders of the revolution, though that's been more by default than anything else. However, some police officers are accusing Simone of being an extortionist. "While Washington is an open-carry state, there is no legal right for those arms to be used to intimidate community members. We have heard anecdotally of citizens and businesses being asked to pay a fee to operate within this area; this is a crime of extortion," said Assistant Police Chief Deanna Nolette. Simone denies the allegations.

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There are critics of Simone's tactics, however. 

According to a video posted to Twitter, Simone is no better than the police the protestors in The CHAZ are protesting against. In the video, which you can see below, Simone can be seen "scuffling" with a graffiti artist, and identifying himself as "the police of this community." 

Simone also claims Donald Trump "put a hit on his head."

In a tweet posted shortly after Donald Trump called for the police to invade "The CHAZ" (while, of course, calling its residents "terrorists," Raz Simone claimed that Donald Trump "put a hit on his head." You can check out the tweet below. 

People are disputing claims that Raz Simone is a terrorist and a warlord.

Despite reports by various outlets, and the statements made by Deanna Nolette, residents of The CHAZ — and Raz Simone himself — both dispute the notion that he is a terrorist and/or a warlord. In fact, many residents say that The CHAZ is the furthest thing from a "warzone" that exists.

"This could literally not be less true. It's incredibly open and peaceful in the CHAZ. The businesses that are open are selling flowers, turning their parking lots into med tents, putting supportive signs in their window," said one person.

Another reporter said that both free food, and medical aid, is available for protestors on every corner of The CHAZ, as well. 

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, publicist, and photographer whose work has appeared in Teen Vogue, People, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, BET.com, and more.