CHOP Zone: Will Trump Step In?

“PEOPLE WANT LAW, ORDER & SAFETY!”

by Sharon Rondeau

(Jun. 29, 2020) — At approximately 10:15 AM EDT, President Donald Trump tweeted that organizers of an “autonomous zone,” now known as “CHOP” (Capitol Hill Organized Protest) in Seattle’s Capitol Hill section “are now refusing to leave.”

Seattle Looters, Agitators, Anarchists and ‘Protestors’, are now refusing to leave the ‘CHOP’ Zone,” Trump tweeted in his sole comment focusing on the matter as of this writing.  “They have ZERO respect for Government, or the Mayor of Seattle or Governor of Washington State! Not good!”

In a subsequent tweet, Trump refuted recent polls showing presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden significantly ahead, claiming that “People want law, order & safety,” a theme he has often stressed since violence erupted following the May 25 death of George Floyd while in police custody.

On June 8, a group of organizers declared CHOP a “cop-free” zone within a six-block portion of Capitol Hill, including the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct which was abandoned for fear that it would be set ablaze.  After Mayor Jenny Durkan proclaimed the “protest” movement a “summer of love,” on June 20, a 19-year-old man was killed and another person seriously injured.

Trump has urged Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to activate the state National Guard to reintegrate CHOP to greater Seattle.  Inslee verbally condemned the violence and destruction caused by looters arising out of peaceful protests and activated the Guard on two occasions following Floyd’s death.  The Guardsmen are unarmed, lawenforcementtoday.com and NBC reported.

At approximately 3:00 a.m. Monday, a shooting occurred near the zone which left one person dead and another hospitalized in critical condition, King5 reported.

Last Monday, in apparent response to the violence that past weekend and after meeting with the movement’s organizers, Durkan said the CHOP would be disbanded amid ongoing discussions on police reform. Public-works crews arrived early Friday morning to begin dismantling cement barriers delineating the zone but were hampered by protesters and left without accomplishing their goal.

The barriers were then set to be removed Sunday morning, but thus far, there appear to be no local news reports of that having occurred.  As of 5:38 p.m. PDT Sunday, King5 wrote, the barriers were unmoved.  An update indicated that as of “Monday morning,” the barriers remained in place.

Durkan said the SPD will reclaim its East Precinct “in the near future” but did not provide an idea of the time frame she has in mind.

After CHOP was formed during a time of violence across the country, Trump said he was considering sending in National Guard troops to restore order and disintegrate the CHOP. Directing himself to Durkan and Inslee, Trump said on June 10, “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t do it, I will.”

On June 20, The Daily Caller reported that Trump mused, in an apparent change of stance regarding CHOP, that “right now, I think it’s great sitting back and watching this catastrophe.”  When asked why he continued referring to deploying the Guard to Seattle, Trump reportedly responded, “We can do it anytime we want.”

The current standoff between CHOP occupiers and local government has been described by certain “experts” as “untenable.”

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