Protesters in Seattle’s “Capitol Hill Organized Protest” (CHOP) zone were forcibly dispersed by police early Wednesday morning.
The Seattle Police Department announced Wednesday morning that 31 people in the area were arrested.
Originally known as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ), CHOP was organized by local activists protesting police brutality following worldwide outcry over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25. Demonstrators within CHOP have called for reforming the Seattle police department and diverting police funding to social programs.
Wednesday’s action by Seattle police follows a 48-hour executive order issued by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who declared the gathering in CHOP as an “unlawful assembly” under Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay at Home” statewide order.
The order mandates that protesters in the area vacate Cal Anderson Park and the East Precinct of the Seattle Police Department.
This follows other large-scale assemblies in the state protesting Inslee’s stay-at-home orders and business restrictions in past weeks.
Four shootings have reportedly occurred near CHOP in the past month, including two teenagers who were shot on June 20 in the area. One has died and another is in intensive care. No suspects have been announced and no arrests have been made.
Some refused to go silently. As police directed a crowd of stragglers to move, they formed a human wall in front of the police ranks, before toppling graffiti-tagged port-a-potties and forming makeshift barricades.
Officers, a number of whom were donned in riot gear, forced protesters out of the area, clearing tents and barriers with the help of tactical vehicles. Several reporters on the scene described the hangers-on throwing traffic cones at the riot cops, but across the short-lived anarchist encampment, officers retook the streets with little effort, thanks to overwhelming numbers and equipment.
The department alleged individuals were seen in the area in possession of firearms and “armor” in addition to “setting off fireworks.” It also claimed city workers obtained “improvised spike strips” from the area near CHOP.
Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best said during a press conference Wednesday morning that law enforcement cleared the formerly occupied East Precinct building, but have not resumed operations.
Once described by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan as a “summer of love,” the CHAZ (or CHOP) degenerated in recent weeks into a hotspot of violence.
Portions Tim Gruver