PARK TO BE VACATED, DURKAN SAYS
by Sharon Rondeau
(Jul. 1, 2020) — Before dawn on Wednesday, the Seattle Police Department’s Public Affairs division posted a four-page memo from Mayor Jenny Durkan which it termed a “Proclamation of Civil Emergency” responsive to the “CHOP” zone overtaken by “protesters” on June 8.
The zone was designated “cop-free” after “protesters” delineated a six-block “Capitol Hill” area, including the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct, as separate from the city and the greater United States on June 8. The following day, a group calling itself “Black Collective Voices” issued a lengthy list of criminal-justice, social, economic and educational demands of the City.
Durkan’s June 30, 2020 order posted early Wednesday morning reported “observed and reported life safety, public health, and property issues in and around the East Precinct and Cal Anderson Park” located within “CHOP,” where two teenagers have lost their lives since June 20.
Following several paragraphs stating that the City of Seattle supports the “lawful right of speech and assembly,” Durkan referenced “emerging circumstances and recent shootings” in the zone.
Durkan maintained that the City has attempted to accommodate “First Amendment” activity to include the provision of electricity, “water, litter and garbage removal” and social services, among others, to those occupying the zone. However, she said “the City’s obligations under the First Amendment do not require the City to provide limitless sanctuary to occupy City property, damage City and private property, obstruct the right of way or foster dangerous conditions…”
In the latter half of page 2, Durkan enumerates reported crimes in the area and difficulties encountered by first-responders to reach those affected.
“On June 30, 2020, SDOT removed a limited number of barriers with SPD, but was quickly met with agitated opposition to the removal,” Durkan continued, referring to concrete barriers the city provided in lieu of makeshift ones initially erected by CHOP organizers. Occupiers had previously pledged to cooperate with the barrier removal, Durkan said.
On page 3, Durkan said Cal Anderson Park was closed at noon on Tuesday. At 2:00 a.m. Wednesday, Durkan’s memo continues on page 4, “the entirety of the Cal Anderson Park Area shall be closed to the public to restore public safety, open roadways, remove obstructions to roadways and public rights-of-way and to accomplish full closure and restoration/cleaning of Cal Anderson Park.”
Durkan’s plan contains seven elements to effect the closure of the park, including the possibility of “arrest” by Seattle police. “All persons who are unlawfully occupying Cal Anderson Park area who are in public rights of way or the park shall be directed to leave the closed area immediately,” Durkin wrote.
Following Durkan’s letter on the SPD blog is a statement from SPD Chief Carmen Best, which reads:
Today, Mayor Jenny Durkan issued a 48-hour public safety emergency order to vacate the East Precinct/Cal Anderson area. Seattle police will be in the area this morning enforcing the Mayor’s order.
This order, and our police response, comes after weeks of violence in and around the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, including four shootings, resulting in multiple injuries and the deaths of two teenagers.
As I have said, and I will say again, I support peaceful demonstrations. Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community.
But enough is enough.
The CHOP has become lawless and brutal. Four shootings–-two fatal—robberies, assaults, violence and countless property crimes have occurred in this several block area.
My job, and the job of our officers, is to protect and serve our community. This is not an end to our department’s engagement with demonstrators. We must continue our efforts to build trust and redefine our roles as guardians in our city. I will continue to work with the Community Police Commission, the Office of Police Accountability, the Inspector General, the Mayor, the Seattle City Council and ALL of our community and social justice partners in the coming weeks to encourage peace and to begin meaningful dialog about reenvisioning public safety in our community.
From 2009 to 2014, Durkan served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, nominated by Barack Obama. She originally described the “CHOP” movement as an element in a possible “summer of love.”
As this article went to press, q13fox reported, “Seattle police issue dispersal order, make arrests at East Precinct.”
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.