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by Sharon Rondeau

Photo: Derek Simeone, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

(Jun. 28, 2020) — Concrete barriers erected to delineate the “CHOP,” or “Capitol Hill Organized Protest,” zone in Seattle’s Capitol Hill area from greater Seattle are scheduled to be removed today, multiple outlets reported.

On June 8, “protesters” overtook the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct amid a six-block swath of Capitol Hill, declaring the so-called “autonomous zone” “cop-free.”  Originally naming it “CHAZ” for “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” organizers identifying themselves as “Collective Black Voices” “demanded” abolishing the Seattle Police Department and “youth jails.”

Another demand was that “the Federal government launch a full-scale investigation into past and current cases of police brutality in Seattle and Washington, as well as the re-opening of all closed cases reported to the Office of Police Accountability.”

“Economic” demands include “free college for the people of the state of Washington,” the implementation of “rent control,” and “an end to all evictions.”

The entire zone, which was reduced from six blocks to three as of June 16, will not be completely dismantled, Fox News reported Sunday morning.  On the same day, Seattle officials and CHOP organizers reached an agreement to replace “temporary” barriers with “concrete barriers.”

On Friday evening, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan met with “organizers” of the protest movement which gave way to the ad hoc settlement in which one person was killed last weekend and another seriously hurt.  In negotiating with occupiers of the zone, Durkan has pledged police reform, a proposal agreed to by Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

Early Friday morning, city workers had been dispatched to begin dismantling the barriers but were met with occupiers lying or sitting in the street to block the movement of the heavy equipment.  After two hours, operators of the machinery left without having achieved their goal.

On Wednesday, a number of Capitol Hill-based business owners filed a class-action lawsuit against Seattle, claiming that “The City has enacted a policy under which police will not enter the CHOP area except during life-and-death emergencies, and, even in those situations, the response is, at best, muted and late.”

Durkan had originally expressed sympathy for the organizers, but the murder of a 19-year-old last weekend as well as additional injuries apparently prompted her Monday news conference in which she said the experiment in “democracy” and its concomitant violence must end.

Durkan’s recent tweets address coronavirus testing and social issues but do not mention the dismantling of CHOP.



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